Mediawan, the fast-rising pan-European production and distribution group behind “The Little Prince,” has launched a new division, Mediawan kids & family, to ramp up its activities dedicated to youth entertainment content and become a global one-stop shop.
Unveiled during the Annecy Animation Film Festival, this new division will bring together Mediawan’s topnotch labels, including Aton Soumache’s thriving banner Method Animation, whose track record spans 25 years and comprises worldwide hits such as “Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir” (co-produced with ZAG) and “Robin Hood – Mischief in Sherwood; ON Classics, the banner behind the BAFTA-nominated, Cesar-winning “The Little Prince,” which sold 50 million tickets worldwide. ON Classics is also behind “Little Nicolas – Happy as can be” which world premiered at Cannes in the Special Screenings section and is competing at Annecy.
More from Variety
Spearheaded by Julien Borde, an animation industry veteran who previously held senior positions at WarnerMedia and France Televisions, Mediawan kids & family will also pursue its talent-driven approach through the joint creations of labels with international artists. The company for instance joined forces with Joann Sfar (“The Rabbi’s Cat,” “Little Vampire”) in 2018 to launch Magical Society, a studio dedicated to the development and production of series and films based on Sfar’s IP’s. The company has also forged a partnership with Sylvain Chomet, the BAFTA-winning, four-time Oscar nominated director of “Triplets of Belleville” and “The Illusionist.” Chomet has now partnered with ON Classics to direct his passion project “The Magnificent life of Marcel Pagnol,” an animated feature film about the life of the celebrated French author. The project has already been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for multiple territories including North America.
The new arm is also set to expand and venture into different genres, kicking off with the acquisitions of Elliott, a label specializing in live action for tweens, and “Somewhere Animation” which is dedicated to 2D animation for preschoolers and kids.
Along with children animation and live action skewing tweens, the company is also now looking to expand into prestige animation for adult audiences, a market which has grown in the last few years and has had a presence at key film festivals, such as Cannes. Several projects are already set up at Method Animation.
Borde, EVP and managing director and CCO of On Kids & Family, pointed out that the the creation of Mediawan Kids & Family coincided with the booming demand for quality animated content which has been bolstered by successful franchises such as “Miraculous,” as well as feature films like “The Little Prince.”
Borde said the company’s ambition was to “target all genres of kids and family content,” nurture bonds with the “best European and international talent,” as well as work with a broad range of partners around the world, from broadcasters to platforms. Borde said streaming services’ growing appetite for animated content has been a driving force behind the skyrocketing demand, including from traditional TV channels.
“Today, animation is a genre that attracts a wide range of audiences and one of the reasons is that adults are still watching some iconic shows they were watching when they were young,” said Borde, adding that the division will also build synergies with other outfits within Mediawan.
Borde said the explosion of animated content can be observed through the volume of features delivered by U.S. studios. “In the 1980’s, you’d have one or two big animated feature hitting theaters every year, today you have almost a dozen,” said the executive.
Mediawan kids & family will also centralize all distribution activities for all the kids & family content delivered by the Mediawan group, on top of the company’s vast catalog of 2500 half-hour programs produced by Mediawan, for instance “Miraculous” which has traveled to more than 200 territories, and “Robin Hood- Mischief in Sherwood” and T”he enchanted village of Pinocchio” which have been broadcast in over 150 countries. The library also includes third-party acquisitions such as “Idefix and the indomitables” and “BarnKidz” which is playing at Annecy.
“The creation of this new division will allow Mediawan to continue its growth internationally and in
France and thus expand its know-how in all the different forms of creation for children and the family and to
meet the new challenges of a sector in full expansion and transformation”, said Aton Soumache, president
and founder of Method Animation.
“I am delighted with this new chapter that is opening for the group. This is a logical development since our
integration into the Mediawan group in 2018. The arrival of Julien Borde has also allowed us to accelerate this
transition,” explained Soumache.
Pierre-Antoine Capton, CEO and Co-founder of Mediawan said the company was “proud to accompany the banner founded by Aton Soumache into a new stage of its development and see the animation branch reach its full potential.”
“This evolution which gathers all animation activities – production labels, distribution — under the banner “Mediawan Kids & Family”, reflects the Group’s strategy: by recruiting the best talent, diversifying its activities, and concentrating all the value chain in France and internationally, Mediawan continues to assert its leadership in the European audiovisual market,” Capton added.
Mediawan Group will announce ten new productions for children, adults and families during a press conference at the Annecy festival.
Best of Variety