Kayenta’s King set to reign in France
Paris, France’s Kayenta Production is hoping to restore the high slapstick quotient of classic cartoons with King Catastrophe (78 x seven minutes). Based on the popular comic book series Le Roi Catastrophe by Lewis Trondhein and Frabrice Parne, the 2-D animated series centers around the bratty hijinks of a middle-grader whose lofty monarchial position is constantly getting him into sticky situations. Anointed to the throne at an early age, the parentless King hasn’t quite figured out how to wield his power gracefully. King makes his minions provide whatever his heart desires – including shoes that will sprout wings and allow him to fly. However, his petulant whims usually backfire, and he is brought low by the end of every episode. But rather than dwelling on high moral lessons, King is reminiscent of the manic, slapstick pace of old U.P.A. toons, says Kayenta’s head of international co-production Kourtney Kaye. Kayenta is co-producing King with France 3 for between US$5.5 million and US$6.5 million, and the prodco is currently focusing on securing additional broadcast sales outside of France.
A.Film beautifies Andersen’s Ugly Duckling tale
With Denmark set to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth in 2005, A.Film’s decision to revisit his Ugly Duckling fable couldn’t be better timed. The Copenhagen-based company is revamping Andersen’s classic tale as a CGI theatrical feature and a 26 x half-hour CGI TV series with Galway, Ireland-based Magma Films for delivery in 2005, when worldwide interest in the Danish author should be at its peak. Budgeted at between US$15 million and US$17 million, The Ugly Duckling and Me centers on a rat (Ratzo) who becomes the adoptive parent of an outcast duck after falling into a duck coop. Billed as a kids sitcom for the five to nine demo, the series will deal with the relationship between Ratzo and Ugly. The movie, meanwhile, will tell six- to 12-year-olds the backstory of Ratzo, who goes on the run from a pack of rats that are trying to blackmail him. A.Film has already granted the Scandinavian theatrical distribution rights to Nordisk Film, and discussions about the TV show were underway with broadcasters in Denmark and Germany at press time. Should the right deal come along, both international (outside Scandinavia) theatrical and TV rights are available, says A.Film’s chief creative for TV and shorts Karsten Kiilerich. The company has also applied for funding for Ugly from a private-sector organization in Denmark called Hans Christian Andersen 2005, which will be awarding money to producers/artists creating projects based on Andersen’s works to commemorate the author’s bicentennial.
Zeppelin probes the secret life of inanimate objects
It’s not uncommon for the well-intentioned parent to buy the latest whiz-bang toy, only to find their child playing with the box it came in a moment later. Kids’ fascination with everyday objects is the departure point for Lisbon, Portugal-based Zeppelin Filmes’ Home Things (26 x 2.5 minutes), in which seemingly pedestrian items come to life. In one ep, for example, a knife and fork try to maneuver around an awkward plate before heading off on a journey around the table; in another, clothes knocked to the ground by a gust of wind magically float back to the clothesline.
Zeppelin put up most of the US$440,000 budget for the clay-animated series, but came up short after one of its main partners, cash-strapped Radio Television Portugal, temporarily pulled its funding late last year due to fiscal problems. French studio Alphanim has since moved in to help with the financing and manage worldwide distribution, licensing & merchandising and publishing rights. The Paris-based company is talking with several broadcasters around the globe and is hoping to complete sales by this spring or early summer. Zeppelin expects to wrap the series in its original Portuguese script sometime this month; an English-language version will follow in September.
Tele Images shoots for feel-good sports in Street Football
Though the marriage of sports and animation has not yet proven to be a winning formula for kid shows, Paris-based Tele Images is aiming to change all that with Street Football (26 x 26 minutes). Geared towards the six to 12 audience, the series centers on a group of poor inner-city kids from France who compete against their counterparts from around the globe in the first World Cup of street soccer. While the road to the Cup final will serve as the series’ main story arc, Street Football is more concerned with exploring the relationships between each of the characters and their struggle to compete in the games in spite of external pressures such as school and a mayor who views street soccer as a public nuisance that should be banned. Loosely based on the adult-targeted Italian novel La Compagnia Dei Celestini, about the plight of homeless kids, Street Football is a co-pro between Tele Images, France 3, RAI and Milan, Italy’s Demas. Tele Images plans to complete production on Street Football, which is budgeted at US$6.5 million, by the time the real European Cup of soccer kicks off in July 2004.