IN its five-year history, Germany’s CTM Concept Media and Merchandising has dealt almost exclusively in the licensing and merchandising arena for its parent company TeleMönchen. CTM managing director Hans Ulrich Stoef explains that the company decided that the long-term licensing biz was risky. ‘If you [as the the licensing agent] are doing a fantastic job, then they [the property-owner] open up their own offices, wanting the in-house margins. If you are doing a mediocre job, they just aren’t satisfied, and if you’re doing a bad job, they fire you.’ So CTM’s long-term plan was to develop its own brand names and rights, but only when it had established a significant market share on the merch side. At the end of 1998, CTM took the next step into TV development, focusing on finding potential franchises.
CTM’s first development project was Timm Thaler-26 half hours of 2-D animation (budgeted between US$7.5 million and US$8 million and targeting kids ages five to 10) based on a book by well-known German children’s author James Kruus. The property had a previous live-action incarnation in 1978 (in Germany), developed by Mainz-based ZDF-one of its most famous series, according to Stoef, evidencing Timm Thaler’s strong brand appeal. EM.TV has bought the distribution rights for TV, video and merchandising in all areas except for German-speaking countries, which are covered by CTM. An audio deal for the soundtrack has been signed with Carousel (Universal Music’s German contingent), and CTM was in discussion with a major toy partner at press time for what Stoef sees as a limited range. ‘No action figures,’ he explains. ‘But more sophisticated things like CD-ROM games and puzzles.’
CTM’s Timm Thaler tidal wave initially crests with the development of a live-action feature, budgeted at US$4.5 million and produced by Class Art (TeleMönchen production arm) and Munich-based PrimeTime for an approximate fall 2002 delivery. Says Stoef: ‘We’re building a real franchise here. The long-term plan is also to develop a new live-action TV series, but that won’t happen before 2003/2004.’
The second CTM programming project is an infotainment show called Was ist Was (Start Me Up), based on a book series of the same name for kids ages six to 13-a 30-year-old educational brand that has 109 published titles through Tessloff Publishing in Germany. ‘This will definitely be an international production,’ Stoef insists, admitting that Timm Thaler is more realistically something a German (and possibly Italian) audience will initially appreciate. Munich-based H5B5 will produce 13 half hours of the infotainment format, budgeted roughly at US$2 million, for a 2001 delivery.
Silicon Raider is next on CTM’s list. This 2-D animated series (26 half hours) for eight- to 12-year-olds is budgeted at US$7 million. Stoef wants to develop an Internet platform, eventually leading to TV exposure. The Reboot-reminiscent series is set deep within the Internet, at the edge of a multilane information highway in the town of Byte Crossing. Discarded programs, lost data and depleted databases struggle to survive when the reformatting raids of a chameleon program threaten to delete Byte Crossing and its inhabitants. A group of brave souls leave their home to search out the source of evil and save Byte Crossing and other threatened network nodes.
Silicon Raider is being developed by TeleMönchen and CTM, and they are shopping for co-pro partners.