European production powerhouse Banijay is continuing to expands its kids content business with the purchase of French animation studio Monello Productions.
Formerly part of Tetra Media Studio, Monello is an independent outfit founded in 2013 by former Télé Images producer Giorgio Welter. Financial terms of Banijay’s acquisition of the Paris-based company were not disclosed, but according to Welter, Monello will remain independent. He will continue as the company’s president and producer Cecile Sady has been upped to the newly-created position of COO.
Series that are currently in production at Monello include When I Was Your Age (52 x 11 minutes) and a fourth season of Street Football ( 26 x 22 minutes). Both are co-productions with Banijay’s Zodiak Kids for France Télévisions and Italian pubcaster Rai. Monello is also co-producing a 52 x 11-minute, CG-animated World of Hello Kitty series (pictured) with Watch Next Media and Sanrio for delivery in 2022.
Banijay bought Zodiak Kids in 2016, and then moved further into the kids space last year when it took on Tiger Aspect Productions (Aliens Love Underpants, Danny & Mick) as part of its acquisition of Endemol Shine Group. Banijay’s portfolio now boasts more than 2,200 hours of children’s programming.
Welter says he was looking for Monello to become part of a larger group that wanted to expand its kids activity. “Joining Banijay will allow us to be efficient with distribution, merchandising and commercial support,” says Welter. “And because we were already familiar with the company through Zodiak Kids, I was interested to join a group that gives producers the freedom to work on their own line-up of properties.”
He adds that Monello’s editorial and style of production will remain the same, and the prodco will be hiring new freelance talent as new commissions and co-productions come through.