With the goal of becoming a major player in kids entertainment distribution, Paris-based prodco France Animation is creating its own distribution division. The mandate of the as-yet unnamed department, which begins operations on January 1, will be to develop a catalog that focuses on youth programming, including animation, documentary and live-action series. Initially, FA will distribute 400 half hours of its own kids programming, which M5 is currently distributing, as well as the shows of other prodcos. FA plans to expand its catalog by producing three to four animated series in-house per year, and by serving as either a co-producer or financial partner on documentary and live-action programs.
The new department will allow the company to respond more broadly to the programming needs of children’s and family broadcasters worldwide, says Maia Tubiana, head of development at France Animation. Currently, FA is seeking co-production and broadcast partners for two of its newest kid properties, Mars Brothers and Titeuf. Mars Brothers, targeted to kids ages eight and up, is budgeted at US$8 million, and is slated to begin production in early 1999. Based on the popular French comic book series by Zep, Titeuf targets the six to 12 demo, and is scheduled to reach TV screens in early 2000. FA has budgeted Titeuf’s 104 seven-minute episodes at a total cost of US$7.9 million.