Why the animated Rio is Ice Age director Carlos Saldanha's dream project

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Carlos Saldanha, who is developing the animated feature Rio, told SCI FI Wire that the Brazilian-themed story will be more musical than his comedic Ice Age movies. Saldanha co-directed Ice Age and stepped up to lead director of Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

"It's a complete different [tone]," Saldanha said in an exclusive interview Monday in Santa Monica, Calif., after a press conference for Dawn of the Dinosaurs. "This is more colorful, has a lot of music and fun elements to it."

The lead characters in Rio are birds, unlike the terrestrial mammoths, sloths and saber-toothed tigers of Ice Age. "Brazil cannot live without birds," Saldanha added.

Singing birds would sound just as wild as talking mammoths, but Saldanha clarified his musical idea. "It's not a musical, but music is a great part of the story, because you cannot think about Brazil without thinking about music," he said. "So we're going to make sure that music is part of it. It's not even going to be Brazilian music. It's going to have a little more fun with music as part of the story, as part of the character's arc."

Rio is still in development and is the Brazilian-born Saldanha's dream project. "That is still in the works, but I'm from Brazil originally, so I always wanted to make a story about Brazil and all the stuff, so I started to develop the story a few years back," he said. The film is eyeing a 2011 release.