Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are spending $120 million and a fair amount of time to bring Belgian visual artist Hergé’s punk-haired teenage reporter Tintin to life in their new film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Empire has the exclusive first look at what Spielberg and Jackson intend to be the first in a trilogy of Tintin movies, which will bring the character and his cartoon comrades to life via the magic of James Cameron’s performance-capture technology.

Jamie Bell (who kicked his acting career into gear by starring in Billy Elliot) is the human force behind the animated Tintin character in Secret of the Unicorn, which Spielberg is directing and Jackson is producing. The latter justified the use of CGI in the film when he pointed out that the look and feel of Hergé’s hand-drawn creation can’t be replicated by using real people, but that “with CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylized caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.”

The Na’vi in Avatar were certainly convincing in design – or, as real as nine-foot-tall blue aliens with feline-like features will ever be on film. Cameron’s mo-cap technology has so far yielded results vastly superior to those on display in Robert Zemeckis’ films like A Christmas Carol, so the characters of Tintin will hopefully not suffer from the infamous “dead eyes” syndrome that’s long been associated with motion-capture creations.

Check out the first look at Tintin himself and his dog Snowy from the movie, as featured on the latest issue of Empire Magazine, below:

Spielberg isn’t giving away any specific details about the Secret of the Unicorn plot just yet, though he claims that it will be a Noirish adventure that was inspired in part by German Brechtian theatre. We’re not quite sure what that means (will Tintin be breaking the fourth wall or randomly start singing in the middle of an action sequence?) but it sounds intriguing.

The screenplay for Spielberg’s Tintin movie was penned by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World), Steven Moffat (the current Doctor Who showrunner) and Joe Cornish (who’s collaborating with Wright on Marvel’s Ant-Man script). This project has got some serious talent behind it, so the final product will definitely be worth keeping an eye out for.

Meanwhile, have a look at the first images – which provide a glimpse at the character Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) – from Secret of the Unicorn:

For more, check out Empire Magazine‘s December 2010 issue.

These pics give a taste of what to expect from Spielberg’s Tintin movie, which looks to feature a world that is both realistic in terms of details, but has a slight cartoonish look all the same. What do you think?

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn arrives in 2D and 3D theaters in the U.S. on December 23rd, 2010.

Source: Empire