Marc du Pontavice, who left Gaumont Multimedia in December `98 to found indie multimedia prodco Xilam, has announced the first three projects currently in development at Xilam Animation, the department that will handle all the company’s TV and film animation activity.
The toon arm’s most advanced project is a 52 x 26-minute series for kids eight to 12 entitled Lucky Luke. Adapted from a same-name comic book series by Dargaud-Marina, the show will borrow the western setting and graphic style of the Lucky Luke comics, but scripts will be original. A co-production between Xilam, France 3 and France 2, Dargaud-Marina (which will handle international distribution), and two as-yet-unnamed international partners from Germany and Canada, the series is budgeted US$16.2 million. Production will commence in November, with delivery slated for September 2, 2000.
Two other projects are on their way, including a 26 x 26-minute action-adventure series called The Watcher for 10- to 14-year-olds. With a 13-episode budget of US$4.5 million, this manga-style toon series relates the adventures of a investigative journalist whose amnesia drives him to look for answers about his life. According to du Pontavice, The Watcher will be a co-production between Xilam and a U.S. network. Also on the animation slate is a 52 x five-minute series for preschoolers called Le Loup Rouge (The Red Wolf). Adapted from a Pocket Jeunesse Editions book series, the US$2.9-million series will be co-produced with Germany’s Igel Media and a Canadian partner.
Though du Pontavice is eager to work with production partners, he’s reluctant to court co-financiers for Xilam. ‘After a few talks with potential partners, I’ve decided not to bring shareholders in now, but to wait for two years for Xilam to build its value,’ he says. ‘I’ve met a lot of investors who have big requirements as far as distribution rights are concerned. I don’t need [capital injection] yet, as I can finance the US$300,000 of development in 1999 by myself.’
Four new series are pegged to enter production between November and March 2000, and next June, du Pontavice will set up Xilam’s TV drama and movie division, with the opening of a multimedia arm to follow in September. Currently for Gaumont, du Pontavice is still supervising the final stages of production on 39 x 26-minute The Magician (which recently sold to the Fox Network, to air next October), and the second season of Oggy and the Coakroaches, a co-production with France 3 and Fox. Delivery is set for June 2000.