A US$75-million deal between Toronto’s Alliance Atlantis Communications and Germany’s TV-Loonland will mean the production or co-production of nine series a year over three years for a total of 27 series. John Bullivant, director of programs at TVL, estimates the breakdown will be approximately six animated series and three live-action series. The partnership includes production, distribution, merchandising and Internet strategies for the series.
TVL has also signed on to handle European rights for an additional 450 hours of Alliance Atlantis kids’ programming (worth US$14 million); U.K. rights will be handled jointly.
TVL was able to make the agreement with Alliance Atlantis after a strong showing on the Neuer Markt when the prodco went public in March. Prior to the IPO, a private investor put up funds for the company to buy 1,100 hours of programming from Sony Wonder for German distribution. The next goal for TVL is to build up its distribution infrastructure, partially achieved by the imminent opening of a London office.
Michael MacMillan, Chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis, says if either company has a series in development, the other partner is able to have first dibs on that series for distribution in their respective territory. MacMillan also says a major thrust will be to develop much more of a licensing and merchandising presence with AAC Kids properties, via the Internet.
Five shows in development from AAC Kids that might be co-produced with TVL include The Time Warp Trio, Harold’s Gut, Henry’s World, Peep and the Big Wide World and In A Heartbeat.
Time Warp Trio is an animated 30 x half-hour series for the eight to ten set based on books by Jon Scieszka, currently in development with WGBH Boston. It’s about a kid named Joe who uses the power of a magic book to travel to different time periods with two friends. Peep and the Big Wide World, which targets preschool viewers, explores the world outside the pond with three duck hatchlings in a 30 x half-hour, 2-D series also in development with WGBH Boston. Friendly enzymes Orval and Vlad tackle ulcers and stave off heartburn in the 13 x half hour Harold’s Gut, aimed at ages eight to 12. AAC Kids is developing the series with Ottawa’s Funbag Animation, but no broadcasters are presently on board. Targeting a slightly younger audience, Henry’s World, for ages six to nine, is a 13 x half-hour CGI series being produced with Toronto’s Cuppa Coffee Animation. It’s based on a boy who travels to alternate realities after eating his mother’s mushy carrots. Lastly, the preteen pilot In A Heartbeat, which has been presold to Disney, focuses on the lives of three teen paramedics who save lives between classes. A total of 22 x half hours of the live-action series are planned. AD & JL