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Lagardère confirms animation exit

MIPCOM: France’s Lagardère Entertainment has confirmed it is ceasing animation production to focus exclusively on international drama and format development, as C21 reported here over the weekend.

The company’s CEO Takis Candilis told a briefing in Cannes today that the group is in advanced talks to acquire companies both in France and abroad, especially those active in formats.

The group failed recently in its bid to acquire Sweden’s Nice Entertainment but has three drama developments underway with Nice Drama.

These include Jours Polaires (Polar Days) for Canal+ in France and SVT in Sweden, which was developed by Ulf Ryberg, who adapted the series Millenium, and an adaptation of a well-known franchise. Candilis declined to give details about the latter.

The shows underway at Lagardère Entertainment’s animation subsidiary, Genao Productions, are Alvin and the Chipmunks for M6, Sonic Boom for Gulli, Mini Loup for France Télévisions and Les Légendaires for TF1.

These will be sold to the Genao’s managers Sandrine Nguyen and Boris Hertzog, who will produce them under their new company, Ouido.

However, Lagardère Entertainment Rights (LER) is retaining Genao’s back catalogue. “We will stop production but not distribution,” Candilis said.

The decision to leave animation – a genre requiring a much longer production process than other genres – was due to a number of reasons, said Candilis. “The animation market has changed, consolidating around kids’ specialised channels, while increased competition means its is focusing on strong franchises, which are difficult to establish,” he explains.

LER did not keep the rights to Alvin and the Chipmunks “because we believed we could not recoup the level of investment required,” Candilis said (PGS made a higher offer for the show).

Another problem is that French regulations oblige broadcasters to invest in independent production, but Gulli – one of the main commissioners of Genao’s shows – is also part of Lagardère Group.

As for Atlantique Productions, the group’s international drama arm whose co-CEO Klaus Zimmerman has just left, Candilis said a new executive will be announced soon.

The third and last season of Atlantique’s Borgia will comprise 14 episodes instead of 12 and is currently in production, while the drama Jo has not been renewed and international funding of the second season of Transporter, which has M6 onboard, is about to be completed.

Atlantique also has two shows in development: Pharao, with France Télévisions, and French Connection, for Canal+.

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