In the eight months since Belgium-based Studio 100 Group acquired a majority stake in German brand management and media company m4e AG—thereby becoming one of the largest animation and live-action studios in Europe with 17,500 episodes of kids and family fare—things have been in acceleration mode.
“We have set up a five-year plan for new productions that encompasses 10 new shows and five feature films,” says Hans Ulrich Stoef, CEO of m4e AG and Studio 100 Media. “We have 380 episodes and three feature films currently in production between our two companies.”
A year after m4e teamed up with producer Sherry Gunther Shugerman (The Simpsons, Rugrats) to announce live-action/puppet/CGI series The Beatrix Girls, the Planeta Junior co-pro’s pilot ep has officially been greenlit ahead of MIP Jr., and a North American master toy partner has been brought on board. Aimed at girls ages five to nine, The Beatrix Girls is based on a brand of multimedia pop dolls, but the new show will have a comedic—and creative—twist. “This show is a relatively high investment for us, with each episode costing between US$350,000 and US$400,000,” says Stoef. “The creativity is completely different. It’s more live action with puppet animation included. That entails lots of green screen shooting and animation. There are so many CGI-animated girls shows out there, so we thought this route was creatively best.” Studio 100 will hold distribution rights to the series in major territories when it launches at the end of 2019.
Also slated for a 2019 release, but shooting for both male and female audiences, is 100% Wolf, an upcoming CGI film and 26 x 22-minute toon developed by Studio 100′s Australian subsidiary, Flying Bark Productions. Studio 100 has inked presales for the feature in 30 countries, while two unnamed commissioning broadcasters have joined the book-based series aimed at kids ages six to 11. 100% Wolf follows a noble dynasty of werewolves, except one descendant who turns into a pink poodle instead of a ferocious creature.
Also looking to take a chunk of MIP Jr. sales is the first full episode of Arthur and the Minimoys, Luc Besson’s TV series adaption of his fantasy universe featuring the young hero Arthur. The CGI-animated series is produced by Europacorp Television, Studio 100, Lagardère Group and Disney Channel Germany, and its key broadcasters include Gulli, Canal J (France), Disney Channel and TSR (Switzerland).
It’s the very nature of bringing Arthur back into the CGI realm that speaks to the synergy between Studio 100 and m4e. “Studio 100 has been successful in developing classic properties like Heidi, and m4e is good at creating new and original programming,” Stoef says. “So combining these two aspects gives us even more leverage in the kids market.”