CinéGroupe–Jacques Pettigrew, president and CEO
The Canadian toon prodco got into live action this year with the launch of a new unit dedicated to the genre. Another coup saw CinéGroupe hook up with Tom Lynch and LEGO on Galidor, a new animated series for Fox Kids that has heavy merch potential.
Decode Entertainment–Neil Court, partner and co-founder
Decode has made great strides at making interactive a more viable revenue model this year, licensing out Angela Anaconda sites to the show’s international broadcasters and signing up to handle worldwide distribution for Collideascope’s web-TV offering Ollie.
DIC Entertainment–Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO
After buying itself back from the clutches of Disney in November, DIC launched a home entertainment division early this year to exploit its animated and live-action fare. DIC also plans to acquire new catalogs that it will release on VHS, DVD and other formats.
Granada–Andrea Wonfor, creative director
Dealing with a much fuller hand after acquiring control of animation studio Cosgrove Hall as part of a buy-out of United Media’s TV holdings, live-action specialist Granada has got a solid hold on top U.K. kids independent status.
HIT Entertainment–Charlie Caminada, managing director of worldwide distribution
The acquisition of Barney creator Lyrick Studios helped cement HIT’s status as a top preschool producer and expand its reach in the U.S., but the company nailed State-side deals with Nick Jr. for Bob the Builder and Oswald, and with PBS for Angelina Ballerina, all on its own this year.
Millimages–Jonathan Peel, CEO
Expansion was the name of the game for Millimages this year, with the company opening a stop-motion studio, a 3-D animation house and a U.S. stronghold from which to market its library in North America and facilitate international co-productions and acquisitions.
Studio B–Blair Peters and Chris Bartleman, co-founders and partners
Signing a flurry of deals with prominent kid biz players, Studio B has made big strides towards becoming a major force in animation production. The ink is dry on Bein’ Ian with YTV; Something Else with the Family Channel; Surf n’ Turf in development with Mainframe and Kids’ WB!; and Todd Parr’s ToddWorld with Discovery Kids. Oh yeah, and they launched a commercial production division too!
The Tom Lynch Company–Tom Lynch, CEO, writer, creator and executive producer
Tween specialist Tom Lynch is sitting pretty this year as everyone scrambles to target the ever-growing demo. Lynch has signed a deal with Hasbro to develop shows based on its properties; in return, Hasbro will handle licensing and merchandising for Caitlin’s Way and any other show for which Lynch controls the rights.