Winchester Entertainment, the maker of Jellabies, is ploughing more funds into production and rights acquisition with a planned US$31-million new share issue.
The outfit’s TV arm has completed four children’s series totaling 45 hours of programming in the last seven years, and head of TV Mike Prince says the combo is now in a position to grow internationally and hopes to expand revenue from licensing and merchandising its kids properties. ‘We’re looking at acquiring shows and working with third parties around the world. We are particularly interested in shows aimed at slightly older children-six- to 12-year-olds-than we have been in the past.’
Winchester currently has two series in production: Snow Children, a 52-parter made with Norway’s TV2; and children’s musical Wheels on the Bus, also 52 parts, co-produced with U.K. audio company CYP and 3D Films. Also in the pipeline is Carnival Park, a learning series made in association with London-based Dorling Kindersley Vision and Madrid’s Zeppelin Television, a subsidiary of Endemol. In the past, Winchester has worked with various worldwide partners including Prisma, Credo and Forefront Productions in Canada, as well as Egmont Imagination in Scandinavia. Its most successful show, Jellabies, has been sold to Fox Family in the U.S. and Super RTL in Germany.
Earlier this month, Winchester reported a pre-tax profit for the six months to September of US$1.4 million, up 38% on the same period last year. Gary Smith, chief executive of Winchester Entertainment, comments: ‘The last six months have been an exciting time as our now well-established U.S. film division begins to bear the fruits of our efforts. Winchester Film Distribution has now been launched, and our first film in the U.K. will be the re-release of the classic film Raging Bull. The new funds will be used to develop the newly established U.K. film distribution business, to acquire rights to U.S. studio released films, and to exploit the group’s increasing catalog of children’s television rights.’