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Animation abounds at Annecy `99

Following the U.S. and Brit boycott last year (due to the competition with the now-defunct Cardiff when Annecy went annual), the 1999 festival/market was expected to be a rebound attendance year. The State-side crowd largely remained absent, but European production remained...
July 1, 1999

Following the U.S. and Brit boycott last year (due to the competition with the now-defunct Cardiff when Annecy went annual), the 1999 festival/market was expected to be a rebound attendance year. The State-side crowd largely remained absent, but European production remained strong nonetheless.

Millimages is pushing its spooky new 2-D feature Carnivalé, which is slated for delivery in October. Directed by Deane Taylor, art director on Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, the US$10-million flick centers on a group of tweens who discover a deserted theme park. Initially distracted by the thrill rides, the gang soon realizes the park is a dangerously enchanted kid-trap. A co-production with Terraglyph, Carnivalé features the voices of Helena Bonham-Carter and Hugh Laurie. Millimages holds rights to French-speaking territories, and Capital Films has signed on as a North American distributor. Also on the Millimages slate is Talis, a 26 x 26-minute co-production with La Cinqieme, France 3, ORF and ZDF. Targeted at the eight to 12 crowd, the US$7.8-million series stars a medieval porcupine (who aspires to become a Round Table knight) and his anteater sidekick. The unlikely duo are catapulted through time and land in 21st century suburbia. Talis is slated for a December 2000 delivery, and will be available in English- and French-language versions.

Paris-based Ellipseanime is also betting on the big-screen with two new cel-animated feature projects in development. Corto, based on a dashing, globe-trotting character created by Italian artist Hugo Pratt, is a co-production with Canal+, France 2, RAI, Neurones and Japan’s Hast. With a delivery date of July 2000, the flick targets kids ages 10 and up, and will be followed by a 26 x half-hour feature in October 2000. Also on the slate is Bécassine, a 75-minute preschool film that Ellipseanime is hoping to develop into a full-fledged, multicategory licensed property after its release in December 2000. The pic stars a zany nanny who is a cross between Mr. Bean and Mary Poppins.

On the series side of things, Ellipse is working on Cairo Cops, a 26 x half-hour co-pro for kids ages eight and up that features an elite police troop keeping the peace in ancient Egypt. Partners on the US$6.5-million series are France 2, France 3 and Germany’s Trickcompany, and delivery is skedded for January 2001. Disney France has signed a pre-buy deal for Fracasse, a 26 x 30-minute Ellipse co-pro with France 2 and D’Ocon Films that will be delivered this December. Starring a shy teen who doubles as a Zorro-esque swordsman fighting injustice, the series targets kids ages six and up and has a per-episode budget of roughly US$300,000. Also slated for a December delivery is The Pirate Family, a 26 x half-hour series that tells the story of a crusty, seafaring plunderer who brings his wife and kids to work. France 3, Cactus Animation and Trickcompany are partners on the project, and Canal+ is handling international distribution. With a budget of roughly US$7.8 million, The Pirate Family is aimed at the six and up set.For preschoolers, Ellipseanime will serve up Kings and Queens in June 2000. The series tells the stories of royal leaders who never made it into fairy tales, including the likes of King Yum Yum, Queen Tickle and King Screwy. Co-produced with France 3 and Granada, the 65 x five-minute series is budgeted in the US$200,000 per half hour range.

Luxembourg’s Neurones has teamed up with M6, Cinar and Paris-based Antefilms Production to make a 26 x 26-minute series for six- to 15-year-olds called Flight Squad. Budgeted at US$7.9 million, the cel-animated series follows the adventures of a crew of young pilots who hire out their services for dangerous missions. Delivery is slated for early 2000.

Next up is Cyrano 2022, a US$6.3-million co-pro with France 2 that’s set in the late 21st century. Aimed at the nine to 15 demo, this series is centered around an attempt by a select group of world leaders to enslave the rest of humanity. Currently in production, the series will be finished sometime in 2000.

The Netherlands’ Magus Entertainment is merging with Germany’s Greenlight Media at the end of this month. The new entity will launch at MIPCOM as Greenlight International and will showcase a 26 x 26-minute series called SimsalaGrimm. A co-production with Hahn Films, the series is based on fairy tales penned by the Brothers Grimm. With a budget of US$12 million, the new toon will launch on Kinderkanal this fall, and will then air on Germany’s ARD in spring 2000. Following on the heels of the series, Greenlight is working on a US$35-million SimsalaGrimm feature for a family audience, which is slated for completion in 2001. The new company hopes to further expand the property into the realms of publishing, home video, CD-ROMs and comic books, and also plans to produce live action and motion capture animation for kids.

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