Nelvana’s plan to divert all of its energy into proprietary production was vindicated by an ‘outstanding year.’ The Toronto-HQed animation studio announced strong first quarter 1999 results, and is planning five new 2-D and 3-D series at its AGM, where Nelvana officers trumpeted the success the company achieved in the previous year, moving wholly into the domain of proprietary production. Nelvana execs said they expect to produce 220 episodes and a feature film this year.
New shows on the development slate include two 3-D animated properties-The Leafmen and George Shrinks-both based on books by William Joyce (the latter combining 2-D and 3-D animation), and three 2-D series, including Callaghan, No Place Like Home and Robin, a teen-oriented co-production with Sweden’s AB Svensk Filmindustri, Sverges Television AB and TMO GmbH.
According to Nelvana CEO Michael Hirsh, in addition to developing a larger production slate, exploring new distribution opportunities and developing feature films, the company will focus on increasing its publication and merchandising businesses, expanding Internet, e-commerce and other direct marketing solutions, and the pursuit of strategic acquisitions and investments. Company CFO Sally Moyer Kent also said that Nelvana recently received a license to operate a digital paint facility in Ireland as part of an effort to lower the company’s tax burden. Finally, the company announced it is developing a ’3-D pipeline’ into Asia, and will co-produce the upcoming season of its Donkey Kong series with a Chinese partner.
Cinar mines edu-arm for US$55 million
by Leo Rice-Barker
MONTREAL: Cinar Corporation expects to generate close to 40% (US$55 million) of its top-line 1999 revenues from its higher-margin education division. Sales from the recently established division accounted for 27% (US$6.7 million) of the Montreal-HQed prodco’s US$25-million first quarter revenues. ‘We’re seeing demand ramping up because there’s more concern from parents about their kids’ education,’ says recently named senior executive VP Hasanain Panju. ‘And the U.S. government has also made a point of investing in the education system.’ Though its margins may not be as high, there is still lots of new activity in Cinar’s production arm. New animation production includes: the 2-D/3-D series Flight Squad; Journey to the West (co-produced with China’s CCTV); Poe Lite (a kid-friendly take of the mystery classics); X-Ducks (a duck character-based, extreme sports concept) and The Baskervilles (with Carlton in the U.K. and a yet-to-be-announced French partner). A new series based on the Richard Scarry property is also in development.