ON the heels of selling 80% of its drama and documentary production subsidiary to division president Christian Charret last July, French media conglom Gaumont has also auctioned off its animation arm, Gaumont Multimedia, to Marc du Pontavice, the toon division’s former president. Du Pontavice left GM a year ago to start up his own multimedia production company called Xilam. The sell-off is not surprising given Gaumont’s recently announced intent to focus purely on film activities.
The final deal stipulates that Xilam will take over all of GM’s assets, including an animation catalog composed of series like Highlander, Skydancers, Dragonflyz, Space Goofs, Oggy and the Cockroaches and The Magician, as well as the Lucky Luke feature film and series. With Gaumont staying on as associate co-producer, Xilam will also take on two projects currently in production: the second 78 x seven-minute run of Oggy and the Cockroaches (a co-pro with France 3 and Canadian prodco Megafun), which is slated for a November 2000 delivery; a video game called Stupid Invaders (based on the TV series Space Goofs), which will be distributed by Montreal-based Ubi Soft; and a cartoon series called Zorka that’s in the development phase.
Finally, Xilam has also taken over the lease of GM’s animation studio and has committed to retaining all existing GM staff there.
Marc du Pontavice’s short-term strategy will be to deliver 60 half hours each year, at the same time continuing to diversify the company’s activities. His goal is to devote 50% of the company’s energies to multimedia and Web development. Gaumont Multimedia’s annual gross revenue is between US$13 million and US$16 million.