In sharp contrast to MIPCOM, when everything was put on temporary hold as companies the world over grappled with the recessionary fallout of 9/11, the atmosphere at MIP-TV 2002 was abuzz with the sound of deal-making once again as 20% more buyers made the trek to Cannes this time around. And since many kids production players have been worriedly watching the number of U.S. broadcast platforms and opportunities dwindle over the past year, it was encouraging to see the surviving State-side kidnets right in the thick of some major deals.
Nick has picked up a package of 39 original toon features from DIC Entertainment, the first 13 of which will start airing this September in a weekly branded slot on Sundays at noon. The first-year lineup will include flicks based on Inspector Gadget, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Lost World, and the complete package will be delivered over a three-year period.
Elsewhere in the MTV broadcast family, Nick Jr. bagged Maisy (104 x five minutes) from Universal and Kipper from HIT Entertainment, while The N (Noggin’s cool new moniker) picked up the first two seasons of live-action tween drama Being Eve (produced by South Pacific Pictures) from distributor Fireworks International.
Nelvana landed a couple of sweet U.S. deals, with ABC Family acquiring Medabots to strip in a weekday morning slot at 8:30 a.m., and Disney Channel buying the latest 39 x seven-minute run of Emmy award-winning preschool series Rolie Polie Olie (co-produced by France’s Sparkling). Season six of the veteran 3-D CGI show will air sometime between fall 2002 and January 2003 in Playhouse Disney blocks on channels in France, Italy, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, as well as on the Playhouse Disney Channel in the U.K. and Spain. The buy also includes a movie-length special and two additional features–Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun and The Santa Claus Brothers.
Despite this flurry of acqusitions, though, most international prodcos have learned not to count on a U.S. sales deal to carry the bulk of show financing and are placing a heavier emphasis on securing co-pro partners and presales in order to get their projects off the ground. Toronto, Canada’s Decode was particularly active on this front with its 26 x 30-minute live-action/CGI combo The Blobheads, which is based on a Brit book series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. The prodco sewed up two Canadian presales–to public broadcaster the CBC and French-language net Vrak TV–for the tween series, which was already presold to Nick International, Nick UK and Canal J in France. The Blobheads’ unique style also attracted Germany’s ZDF and U.K.-based prodco Wark Clements, which have signed on to co-produce the show with Decode.
In the same vein, Alphanim has inked a co-development agreement with Cartoon Network Europe for Robotboy, a 15 x 13-minute neo-anime series that will be delivered next year. The Paris-based toonco has also completed the financing puzzle for Creepschool, which will be delivered for Halloween 2003 by a motley co-pro crew comprised of Happy Life in Sweden, Luxemburg’s Lux Animation, Canada’s Cinar, Agogo in China and France 3.
This year’s market also saw the influx of several new kids companies with displaced industry veterans at their helms. Cut loose from his seven-year stint as VP of international co-productions and acquisitions for Fox Family Worldwide’s distribution arm Saban International (which is exiting the business itself later this month, with Buena Vista Television taking over its library as of May 1), Sam Ewing hit the Palais running with a new shingle in tow. A co-venture with Jean Luc Silbereis, who founded Palm Tree Films to foster co-pro deals between Europe and North America, Pastis Television International will focus on acquiring, developing and producing animated and live-action fare for the eight to 16 demo.
Meanwhile, former HIT Entertainment head of co-productions and acquisitions Peter Curtis and itsy bitsy’s ex-president of on-screen entertainment Joan Lambur were busy securing rights to kids and family properties for their new outfits. Curtis’ London-based Spellbound Entertainment aims to offer niche rights packages covering kids and family animation and live-action preschool shows, and working out of Toronto, Lambur & Associates will concentrate on helping small overseas prodcos break into the lucrative North American market.
Using expertise they honed at U.K. hotshop Pepper’s Ghost Productions, Richard Morss, Roberta Kurtz and Alistair McIlwain have branched out to open a new digital animation studio called Banjax. Based in London and Belfast, the outfit’s game plan is to develop, acquire and co-produce animated properties that can exist on multiple platforms. First up will be Gene Fusion, a cool 3-D adventure toon for tween boys that’s based on a same-name comic book series published by Beckett Entertainment.
In other MIP news…
* Germany’s Peppermint picked up Asian distribution rights to DIC’s entire catalog
* New York-based Honest Entertainment signed a co-pro deal with Mainframe for a new collage animated series called Family Values
* Fox Kids France and AB Productions will embark on their fourth co-pro–Chocotte Minute (52 x 13 minutes)–with M6
* France’s TiJi picked up the first season of Dora the Explorer from Nick
* Fox Kids Europe adds RTV/Portfolio co-pro RoboRoach (26 x half hour) to its lineup, picking up worldwide TV, video and merch rights outside North America and Germany
* TV-Loonland sold Cramp Twins, Little Ghosts, Pettson and Findus, Clifford and Connie the Cow to Italy’s pubcaster RAI, with Norway’s NRK and Denmark’s TV2 picking up Connie and Henry’s World and Finland’s YLE buying Henry’s World, Letters From Felix and Fantastic Flying Journey
* EM.TV sold The Hoobs to ZDF and KI.KA in Germany