You know it’s been a good MIPCOM when any one of the following things happen: folks are too busy closing deals to gossip (until the final night, of course); the bulk of attendees stay right through until Friday; and broadcasters are on such a buying jag that sales are announced at the market rather than a month down the road. Given that all three of these industry health indicators were present at this year’s show, it’s probably safe to say that the business is finally bouncing back.
On the buying front, Germany’s kidnets are particularly keen to acquire hits right now as they prepare to compete with Nick and Cartoon, both of which are likely to launch kids channels in the territory next year. Super RTL, which stands to lose some of its top-rating Nick shows, has picked up TV-Loonland’s Heidi feature film and the second season of Cramp Twins. EM.TV placed two shows with ZDF shortly after picking up German TV and home entertainment rights. Sparkling’s CGI series Zoe Kezako and Southern Star’s teen live-actioner The Sleepover Club will both head to the German pubcaster’s schedule.
The door to the U.S. still seems to be more open than it has been in recent years. Happy with Code Lyoko’s performance in its afternoon Miguzi block, Cartoon Network has committed to a second 26 x half-hour run, co-produced by Antefilms, France 3 and Canal J. The toon channel also picked up ShoPro Entertainment’s Zatch Bell! and Gerald McBoing Boing from Cookie Jar and Classic Media.
Getting wise to the necessity of on-the-ground management in China, several companies have signed up Chinese distributors to get their properties some airtime. Dutch prodco Telescreen has tapped Shanghai’s 3 Mind Consultancy to handle TV home entertainment and consumer products rights to Hans Christian Andersen – The Fairytaler, and Beijing-based ERG will work on Lizzie McGuire, Ox Tales, Star Street and Plonsters. London, England’s Ragdoll, meanwhile, has commissioned Guangzhou Beauty Culture Communication to negotiate with Chinese broadcasters and secure a berth for its preschool show Boohbah.
There were fewer corporate restructuring announcements this year – probably because everyone was just hunkering down and selling. Companies that did indulge in a little pre-market shuffling did so in order to facilitate sales. Coming out of Cartoon Forum with a lot of buzz building around Minuscule (which was, incidentally, the most-screened show during MIPCOM Junior) and Dragon Hunters, France’s Futurikon has launched an international distribution arm under the purview of former Screentiger and Cinar Europe sales exec David Harrison.
To crystalize the division between its entertainment and sports businesses, EM.TV has grouped all production and sales activities under two new subsidiaries – EM.Entertainment and EM.Sport. President of TV distribution Patrick Elmendorff and Junior.TV director Dr. Matthias Schulze are heading up the entertainment division, which will gradually consume all of EM’s separate rights-holding companies, including Junior Produktions, the EM.TV library and distribution rights EM manages for third parties.
Getting into the kids content game, long-form animation and broadcast design specialist 422 South has launched a new division called Star8 to develop new projects for kids up to age 16. Furthest along is Back Pack Genie, a live-action/CGI series for tweens about a has-been genie who’s given one last chance to shine in the wish-granting business when he’s assigned to a new master – contemptuous nine-year-old Tyler Gask.
Tom Van Waveren has left his position as president of Telescreen Distribution and Licensing to launch a new Dutch development company called Hoek, Line and Thinker. Taking developing projects Skunk Fu (Cartoon Saloon) and Invisible Ink (Pesky, Samka Productions) with him, Van Waveren is aiming to remain small and flexible, with a focus on finding funding and bringing shows to market.
Bouncing back after oil conglom Teva (which has interests in too many industries to count) exited the animation game this summer, former studio managing director Eric Jacquot has launched a new production outfit that will focus on animated projects and live-action movies. Backed by funding from Nicolas Goldzahl’s VM Group, which specializes in factual entertainment, Spirit will take on all of Teva’s projects and ex-staffers Valerie Seban and Nicole Ruelle to boot.
In other industry moves, former Cookie Jar sales guru Louis Fournier has resurfaced to help Galafilm set up a kids division. In his new position, Fournier will be much more involved in the development and production side of the TV business, which he has wanted to explore for a long time.
YTV is looking for a new head of programming now that Joanna Webb has decided to join sister channel W Network on a permanent basis. Word on the street is that several international programmers are interested in the position, especially given that Corus will be trying to buy up European broadcast outlets to house international YTV feeds in the coming year.
MIPCOM Junior attendees were delighted to see so many new shows in the 2004 screenings lineup. Rounding out the top-three viewing list with Futurikon’s Minuscule were Street Football from Tele Images and Dragon, a co-pro between Canada’s Cité-Amerique, Germany’s Scopas Medien AG and Image Plus out of Korea.
Finishing just out of the medals in fourth spot was B.R.B.’s Bernard, the Spanish studio’s first fully CGI project. The 52 x three-minute series (which can also play as 13 x half hours) stars a curious polar bear who explores the world like it’s his own backyard and makes even simple discoveries seem wondrous. B.R.B. is aiming to deliver the show at the end of 2006.
The kids development pipeline is also particularly packed with promise right now, and some gems that caught our eyes include Planet of the Thingies (Cartoon Pizza), Hugh’s View (National Geographic Kids), Sometimes I’m Bambaloo (Scholastic Entertainment), Insiders (SIP Animation), Cryptids (Porchlight) and Kid Ninja (Cake Entertainment). Stay tuned as we give you the goods on these and many more bright prospects in the months to come.
With files from Nancy Lees.