MiraculousPenpals_Epopia

ZAG acquires stake in pen-pal storyteller

EXCLUSIVE: The Miraculous studio plans to deliver some old-fashioned letter-writing entertainment with Epopia, says Julian Zag.
April 21, 2021

LA-based animation studio ZAG has acquired a stake in Epopia, a French company specializing in creating interactive stories that kids can influence through letter-writing.

The subscription service (US$15 to US$20 a month) centers around a story that gets told through written correspondence over the course of roughly eight months. It kicks off with kids receiving a letter from a fictional character, like the leader of a magical kingdom or an explorer, who asks for help and advice. They’re encouraged to write back with their suggestions. Epopia team members, usually teachers and psychologists, then build out the story one letter at a time. And at the end of the eight months, kids get a scrapbook compilation of all their letters, pictures and drawings.

Following a successful first partnership on a Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (pictured) interactive storytelling experience, ZAG and Epopia will roll out similar offerings for other ZAG properties including Ghostforce and Power Players.

The interactive stories target a wide range of kids, from four-year-olds who are likely getting writing help from their parents, all the way up to to 18-year-olds.  The company currently has six stories in its bag of tricks, including the Miraculous one. 

Sending content through the mail might be a bit old-fashioned, but there’s something special about getting a physical package that really excites kids—especially when it contains something they’ve helped to create, says EVP of global operations Julian Zag. He adds that the screen-free nature of this pen-and-paper activity is very appealing to kids and parents right now.

“We’re gamifying the writing and reading process, making the audience an actor in their own story,” says Zag. “Waiting to get a gift in the mail and find out what happens can make the whole story more meaningful. This [is] more exciting than getting an email.”

Since its launch in 2012, Epopia—which was founded by Rémy Perla—has amassed 70,000-plus subscribers in France, and more than 1,000 local schools are using the program.

Zag will join Epopia’s board, and the goal is to support the subscription service as it grows internationally. Epopia also plans to expand the number of original stories it offers, and ZAG will help the company sign licensing deals for these new pen-pal adventures.

“We can see, through the download numbers of our apps, that kids are spending more time on devices during the pandemic,” says Zag. “This is our unique way of engaging audiences that takes them away from technology and empowers them to be creative.”

 

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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