It’s a European animator’s dream come true. Greenlight International has secured funding to the tune of US$100-million from a tax-shelter investment offering that will fully finance the development and production of eight new toon projects and their accompanying ancillary programs.
Offered up by prestigious London bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson to establish new brands in the animation realm, the cash injection will be split down the middle, with 50% going into the development of licensed product and 50% being channeled into series and film work.
Greenlight International is the result of a recent merger between Netherlands-based distribution company Magus Entertainment and German prodco Greenlight Media, which created Renada (52 x 13 minutes) and Brothers Grimm-inspired fairytale series Simsala Grimm (13 x 24 minutes). HQ’d in Hilversum, The Netherlands, the new entity’s plan is to market an integrated platform for toon and film projects, handling all stages of development-from concept to production to distribution to merchandising-with strategic partners on-board from the get-go.
The first series projects slated for a ride on Greenlight’s new synergy train are scheduled for delivery by end of 2001 or early 2002. Included in the seven-pack is @dventures, a 26 x 26-minute co-production for the four to 11 crowd with German animation studio Das Werk. The series stars a group of kids who unlock the secret behind the @ sign and travel through the Internet to explore a vast array of subjects. Germany’s Super RTL will debut the US$11.2-million series.
Also with Das Werk, Greenlight is working on Stories From the Great Forest, a 52 x five-minute series that centers on the daily lives of a crew of forest-dwelling animals. Budgeted at US$6.6 million, Stories will also target four- to 11-year-olds.
Hamburg-based ASL will partner on two of Greenlight’s new projects for the four to 11 demo: Meadowlands, a whimsical 26 x 26-minute, US$9.5-million series that follows the nomadic wanderings of mythical creatures such as elves, pixies and fairies; and Arcariens, a 26 x 26-minute, US$6-million romp that delves into a microscopic world of mites who mimic human behavior and character traits. Super RTL has signed on to launch both shows in Germany.
Aimed at a slightly older audience of five- to 13-year-olds, Jamaica Beach features a bunch of easy-going castaways who must grapple with an evil creature for possession of their island’s hidden treasure. This 52 x 13-minute series has a budget of US$5.5 million and is a co-pro with Luxembourg’s Oniria Pictures.
Toothfairies, a 26 x 26-minute co-venture with Germany’s Hahn Film, is set in the underground world of these legendary wish-givers. The US$12.2-million toon explores the behind-the-scenes process for granting wishes, as well as revealing a very human-like amount of squabbling over tooth collection rights. Hahn has also agreed to partner on Altair, a Little Prince-ish concept created by Ted Sieger of Wildlife fame. The 26 x 26-minute series sports a budget of US$12 million and stars a boy hero who’s charged with guarding the stars, which represent dreams. Lastly, Hahn Film and Greenlight will co-produce a US$35-million Simsala Grimm feature film, which will hit theaters by early 2002.
On the ancillary side of things, Greenlight has already signed BMG and Bertelsmann to produce soundtracks and books based on some of the new toon properties.