French production company France Animation has partnered with Australian animation producer Energee, Korean studio Akon and French network M6 for the co-production of Wheel Squad, a new 26 x half-hour series aimed at kids ages five to 10 and budgeted at US$7.2 million. Co-developed with French animation house Praxinos, it relates the urban adventures of four kids, fond of skate-boarding, rollerskating and biking, who struggle against injustice in their `hood. The series, which is slated for an August 2000 delivery, has also been presold to Canal+ Belgium.
France Animation president Giovana Milano says: ‘French co-productions with Australia are still exceptional. The only one I know of was our first experience with the Australian Children’s Television Foundation on series Li’l Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers. It is also the first French co-production with an Asian studio.’
Under terms of the Wheel Squad agreement, Akon will keep rights for Korea and Japan, and will receive co-production shares. As for Energee, it will keep rights for Australia and New Zealand, and will distribute the series in Asia and the U.S. France Animation, which recently restructured its international distribution activities with the arrival of Lionel Marty as the head of the department, will manage distribution for the rest of the world.
France Animation has begun production on another 26 x half-hour animated series entitled Zepi & Zinia. This adventure concept about two pigeons that live on the rooftops of Venice has been commissioned by the European Broadcasting Union. The series will air on all European public networks, including RAI (Italy), ZDF (Germany), BBC (England), ORF, RTP, RTBF, France 2 and France 3. Co-produced with Italy’s Lanterna Magica and Spain’s Cromosoma studios, Zepi & Zinia will be completed sometime in 2000.
France Animation plans to announce at MIP completed co-production deals for new projects The Mars Brothers, a US$8-milion, 26 x 30-minute animated comedy for teenagers, and Titeuf, a 104 x seven-minute family series based on the French comic book collection by Zep. Production could begin as early as this fall. While at MIP, the French company will also focus on acquiring and investing in youth programming, from live action to documentaries. France Animation is also preparing its first animated feature film, which will be adapted from a classic children’s book.