According to the HR, New Line is making the “giant leap” into the world of animation with its first “small step,” a 3-D animated movie called Planet 51. This will be New Line’s first animation film in its 40 year history.

The feature is a $60 million project being developed at Ilion Animation Studios in Madrid, the first film for the 5-year-old studio. It was written by Joe Stillman, who contributed to the screenplays for Shrek and Shrek 2, along with Beavis and Butthead Do America. Stillman will direct with Jorge Blanco, a video game developer.

The story is set on Planet 51, whose inhabitants live in fear of an alien invasion. Their paranoia is realized when astronaut Capt. Charles “Chuck” Baker arrives from Earth. Befriended by a young resident, the astronaut has to avoid capture in order to recover his spaceship and return home.

New Line plans to complete the film in March 2009 (not release it then), but no voice actors have been signed. “A search for A-list voice cast is under way,” apparently. No release date has been set.

I did confirm from Ilion’s website that it will be 3-D. Much like Monsters vs. Aliens from DreamWorks headed for March 27, 2009. DreamWorks Animation already declared that starting in 2009 all its movies will be in 3-D, which means an extra dimension for Shrek Goes Fourth.

I think this looks awesome. I like the little webcam guy and the concept isn’t bad. I’m interested to see another point of view, because Pixar/Disney are dominating the genre when it comes to quality.