Action-adventure network Fox Kids Europe has entered into what it calls a one-of-a-kind partnership with Paris-based animation producer Marathon, the hotshop that produces Totally Spies! and Martin Mystery.
As part of the agreement, the two companies will co-develop and co-produce at least three new 52-ep series for FKE’s networks in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East over the next four years.
FKE will also have first-look rights to Marathon’s entire extracurricular output of kids animation, with the Jetix block giving everything a once-over for the U.S. market. Marathon will then be free to structure co-production deals in Canada and other parts of the world.
On the consumer products side of the equation, FKE has an option on pan-European consumer products rights for the three co-pros; the net already manages the pay-TV and consumer products rights for Totally Spies!
Benoit Runel, executive director of programming and acquisitions at FKE, says striking this deal was more about formalizing a mutually satisfying relationship than about testing a new partnership model. He says that FKE’s high-volume focus makes partnering with producers that can handle long-term commitment essential. ‘You want to make sure that in the coming years, you can maintain the creative input of the right people,’ he explains.
On the flip side of the deal, Runel expects Marathon’s slate of independent productions to benefit from FKE’s international expertise and reputation. ‘Marathon has a pretty good idea of what will work across all categories, but it’s a great help for them to have a partner that’s always thinking in terms of pan-regional, pan-European positioning,’ he says.
The first show to come out of the deal is currently in development, with the partners hammering out content, design and narrative issues in time to start showing the concept at MIPCOM in October.