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LOS ANGELES, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Australian-U.S. co-production "Happy Feet," which has penguins dancing in Antarctica, won the Academy Award on Sunday for best animated feature.
The film beat rivals "Cars" and "Monster House."
"Happy Feet" was a box office hit, grossing about $363 million worldwide. The film was a joint venture of Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) Warner Bros. Pictures and Australia's Village Roadshow Ltd. (VRL.AX).
Backstage, after his victory, Happy Feet" director George Miller said, "I'm going back to live-action actors for a while, but I'm hooked on animation and I think it's going to be in whatever movies I make."
And he won't be alone, Miller, an Australian, said.
"There is also a convergence between animation and what we call basic filmmaking. It's an interesting new age we're working in. I'm very happy to be part of it," he said.
"I think every single live action director now has to take into account animation. There is a convergence between them," said Miller
Miller was previously nominated but did not win the Oscar for writing the screenplay for 1992's "Lorenzo's Oil." And in 1996, he was nominated for writing and producing 1995's children's barnyard fantasy, "Babe."
"I started off making action movies and doing live action. I never thought I would be holding an Oscar for animation."
The 61-year-old director said he was experiencing the truly bright lights of Hollywood for the first time.
"(The Oscar statue) was given to me by Cameron Diaz. Except for when I was standing next to George Clooney I've never felt the intensity of those cameras so I feel pretty good," he said.
Among the stars who voiced roles were Elijah Wood as Mumble, the leading penguin; Brittany Murphy as Gloria; Hugh Jackman as Memphis; and Nicole Kidman as Norma Jean.
The movie was dedicated to Australian naturalist and TV star Steve Irwin, who was killed while diving off Australia in September, shortly after recording the voice for one of the roles in "Happy Feet." (Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall)