In a move worthy of King Kong, BKN International has acquired the noted Paris animation production house Arles Animation and announced an expansion of its international business.
Nadia Nardonnet, chairperson of BKNI, notes that this acquisition is ‘the first step of BKN International’s expansion strategy in the production side of the business.’ BKN plans to develop and produce its own programs and will control all its properties on an international basis.
The former Arles Animation, now known as BKN Studios, has been in cartoon production since 1986. Since 1997, the company has had a co-production and subcontracting relationship with DIC Entertainment, producing animation for such programs as Sabrina, Sonic Underground, The Wacky World of Tex Avery and Archie’s Weird Mysteries. The relationship with DIC came to an end with the BKN takeover.
Daniel Schwall, former CEO of Arles Animation, has been appointed executive VP of BKNI. He plans to have the new studio collaborate closely with BKN’s L.A.-based animation studio-headed by Stephanie Graziano, president of programming, production and network development-on creative content and scripting. Character design and pre-production art to final film will be handled in Paris, while post-production services will be handled by a subcontractor in Germany. ‘We plan to take advantage of the best talents in our various locations to create the highest-quality product for the global market,’ says Schwall.
All in all, BKN Studios has 12 series in various phases of development. Kong, King of Atlantis, now in production, is an ambitious 72-minute feature that will play theatrically in Europe. Capertown Cops, a comedy series, has a 52-episode order commencing production this month. That will be followed by various 26-episode series including Invisible Detective and The Lost Continent.
The previously announced arrangement between BKN and pasi (Philippine animation studio, Inc.) to produce 40 episodes of Kong, The Animated Series remains unaffected by the studio acquisition.
BKN International was formed in March 2000 as its own publicly traded entity, with offices based in Cologne. Its parent company, New York-based BKN Inc., has grown into a U.S. program supply powerhouse with its BKN Kids Network.