Everlasting puddings, mutating animals and lovable nits set the stage for two new series and the first animated feature film from independent Aussie producer Energee Entertainment.
Based on the 1918 children’s story by Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding stars John Cleese as Albert the cantankerous Puddin’ and Geoffrey Rush as the koala Bunyip Bluegum. The 90-minute feature will have a primary audience of kids ages four to 12, and is budgeted at roughly US$7 million. Icon Films International in London is handling international distrib, and Village Roadshow is doing the theatrical release in Australia. Energee expects to wrap by May 2000, and will release the film in Australia and the U.K. by Christmas 2000. Showtime in Australia has picked up pay TV rights, and the film has been presold to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for free TV broadcast and video. Gaffney is the film’s licensing agent in Australia. Ravensburger holds TV and video rights for Germany, and Spain’s Luk International has distribution rights in Spain and Portugal. HarperCollins is the book’s publisher, and Energee is discussing doing up to nine tie-in books with the company.
On the TV side, Energee is co-producing Wicked! with France Animation. Energee will produce an 80-minute DTV feature and a 26 x half-hour TV series. The cel-animated offering is based on a series of six books by Paul Jennings and Morris Gleitzman, and will be targeted at kids ages eight to 12. The books, which have sold 750,000 copies in Australia and 250,000 copies in the U.K., star a stepsister and stepbrother who meet at their parents’ wedding. They become allies against a villain who is trying to spread a virus that causes animals to mutate. With a budget of US$275,000 per episode, Wicked! will be distributed by Energee in Australia, New Zealand, North America, the U.K. and Asia, with Luk International picking up distribution rights in Spain and Portugal, France Animation taking care of French-speaking territories and Paris-based Pandora distributing in remaining territories. Discussions with a key European broadcaster were underway at press time, with a view to possibly acquiring additional rights. Gaffney is the licensing agent in Australia.
Energee’s final offering, The Nits, features the feisty, enduring and somewhat irritating Gloria Nit and her family of misfits. Budgeted at US$6.5 million, this 52 x 12-minute co-pro is aimed at the six to 12 set. Partners are Sunbow in the U.S., Tele Images in France and Ravensburger in Germany. Energee and Tele Images are handling the cel animation. Energee is distributing in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Spain and Portugal, Tele Images in all French-speaking territories, Ravensburger in German-speaking territories, Italy, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and Sunbow in North America, South Africa, the Middle East, Japan, the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Delivery is set for second quarter 2000.