Now that CinéGroupe has firmly established itself as an international animation player, the Montreal-based company is spreading out into the live-action arena with the creation of CinéGroupe Image.
Headed by industry veteran Robin Spry, the unit will develop, finance and produce live-action series, TV movies and feature films for kid, teen and family audiences. CinéGroupe Image will kick off in the new genre with the third season of teen comedy series Big Wolf on Campus. With 21 half hours set to air this fall on YTV in Canada, VRAK TV in Quebec, Fox Family Channel in the U.S. and TF1 in France, Big Wolf will reach 65 eps this year–the magic number for daily strip syndication. The series follows the adventures of a high school football captain who’s bitten by a werewolf. In keeping with the lore, he turns into one himself, but uses his new form to keep his town safe.
Also on the slate is Strange Tales, a co-production with Granada Kids in the U.K. that’s about a Brit teen who moves with his family to Montreal and is touched by the gods of chaos wherever he goes. The ‘fish out of water’ story for kids six to 16 starts shooting in early 2002, with first orders for 26 half hours from Canada’s YTV and CiTV in the U.K.
Door to Door is a mix of live action and animation about an 11-year-old boy from a split family who goes back and forth between two parents. The 26 x half-hour co-production with France’s Tele Images targets kids four to 14 and has sold to France’s Canal J and to Family Channel in Canada.
Dr. Justice, Spry’s first development project at CinéGroupe Image, has actually split into two different end products–an adult/family-targeted live-action feature film and an animated series for kids six to 16. Dr. Justice is a doctor/karate expert who works for Doctors Without Frontiers, traveling to the world’s hot spots to save people’s lives and take on lurking villains.
The new division’s launch comes on the heels of CinéGroupe receiving a US$9.1-million cash injection from the Quebec government operating via its private sector investment firm SGF Tech. The financial boost enables CinéGroupe to further develop its expertise in 3-D animation and interactive digital production.