London-based Egmont Animation is developing some Christmas cheer for 2002 with family-targeted holiday series Drip and Dasher. Introduced at Cartoon Forum last year, the stop-frame/3-D project is being developed in-house at Egmont’s Imagination Productions studio, but France’s Sparx Animation is slated to provide 3-D work later on in the production process.
Drip and Dasher (budgeted at US$275,000 per half hour) is initially being developed as an advent series, a popular format in Scandinavian countries.
From December 1 through Christmas, an episode is broadcast daily with a we-have-to-save-Christmas! motif. A CD single and/or soundtrack (usually recorded by a famous artist) and a broadcaster-branded advent calendar featuring images from the series (with little windows that get opened to reveal chocolates-one for each day until Christmas) will hit retail just before the beginning of December.
Some of the proceeds from the calendar and CD sales go to a charity of the broadcaster’s choice-the caster recoups roughly one-third of its original investment in the series from these sales. Local dailies also run comic strips to highlight what happened in the previous night’s run.
While advent series are well-entrenched in Scandinavia and not uncommon in France and Germany, the goal now is to introduce the concept and series to other markets (probably as 26 half hours). So far, Egmont Imagination director of distribution Tatiana Kober says that she has garnered interest from casters in the U.K., Germany, France and North America.
The series centers around a five-year-old boy named Drip, who lives next to a zoo that houses talking animals-including Santa’s team of reindeer. The zoo wants to enclose its environment in a biodome to control the climate, meaning that the reindeer would be landbound come Yuletide.
Drip hooks up with sleigh team leader Dasher and some of the other animals (described as Gary Larson-esque) to save the day. Kober says Drip’s older brother Magnus should age the property up to an eight to 12 audience, and the tongue-in-cheek interplay with the animals will further endear the series to older members of the family.
A bible and a pilot will be ready for this Christmas, with a tentative Christmas 2002 delivery in mind.
Also in the works at Egmont is Rabbits, a co-pro with Aardman Animations that debuted at Cartoon Forum two years ago, originally targeting a preschool demo. Broadcasters didn’t seem to glom onto it with that age group in mind, so the partners rejigged it for the seven and up set. It’s still in development (26 x 11 minutes), but basically, the series stars three crazy rabbits whose antics amount to an encyclopedia of nonsense, says Kober. Budgeted at approximately US$375,000 per half hour, the series is a mix of clay, CGI and 2-D animation that should be ready for delivery in April 2003.