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Abbey strikes out on its own in post-Just life

Out of the ashes of the Just Group's bankruptcy, London, England-based Abbey Home Media Group will return to MIPTV this month with a preschool-heavy property list. It's been a fairly rapid comeback for Abbey, which original owners Ian and Anna Miles re-purchased from Just's receivors in February 2002, along with Brit publishing house Marshal Direct and various properties Just had in development.
March 1, 2003

Out of the ashes of the Just Group’s bankruptcy, London, England-based Abbey Home Media Group will return to MIPTV this month with a preschool-heavy property list. It’s been a fairly rapid comeback for Abbey, which original owners Ian and Anna Miles re-purchased from Just’s receivors in February 2002, along with Brit publishing house Marshal Direct and various properties Just had in development.

Among these is a 2-D animated co-pro with the BBC and King Rollo Films called Wide Eye. Based on a successful educational book series that has sold a million units in 35 countries, Wide Eye tracks the gentle adventures of a wise owl, his son Hoot and other animals living in Natterjack Forest. Budgeted at US$4 million, the 26 x 10-minute show targets the three to six crowd and is scheduled to debut on CBBC and BBC2 this fall.

Another King Rollo co-pro in the works is a US$1.6-million, 2-D special based on Roald Dahl’s The Giraffe & Pelle & Me. Abbey is in final negotiations with a U.K. broadcaster, and the 50-minute, tween-targeted show should be ready to air this fall.

Also in the kidlit category, Abbey is developing Lost in the Snow, a 2-D animated, half-hour special based on Brit author Ian Beck’s picture book about a teddy bear who gets lost in the snow on Christmas Eve and discovers that other toys can talk.

For the baby demo, Abbey is working on a series of five-minute episodes of CGI infant developmental series Baby Bright, which was originally conceived at Just as a stand-alone video series.

Mother Goose, a preschool-targeted retelling of the classic nursery rhyme, and updates of Abbey mainstays Teddy Trucks and Bump round out the company’s busy slate.

Committed to producing wholesome non-action fare for preschoolers to early tweens, Abbey will have a more focused approach to business than the now-defunct Just Group, which had dabbled in licensing, video game & book publishing and toy development before it filed for bankruptcy in January 2002. That said, Abbey will maintain an ambitious production slate over the next few years, and to help pay for the heightened level of activity, Ian Miles plans to take the company public by issuing an IPO on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) as early as this May.

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