Franco-Belgian group Média-Participations unveiled its cross-media strategy and the diversity of its projects, both original creations and adaptations, in the field of animation. During the press conference at the ongoing Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, leading independent family entertainment group in Europe Média-Participations announced that they have decided to group all its French production labels together (Dargaud Media, Dupuis Edition and Audiovisuel and Ellipsanime Productions) under one umbrella brand: Ellipse Animation, which is synonymous with 170 productions and heroes (Asterix, Tintin, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Babar, The Garfield Show, Yakari...).
For over 60 years, its production companies in France and Belgium have created successful animated series and films, from Garfield & Co. to the new 3D series The Smurfs, including the feature film Yakari and the upcoming Marsupilamis, most of which are sold worldwide.
“Although we come from the publishing industry, our job is more broadly to tell and share stories. Our originality is that we know how to do this in almost all media: books, video games, amusement parks, press, digital, and audiovisual of course. Animation, which enables our heroes to reach a wide audience in France and abroad, is more than ever at the heart of our strategy and one of our core businesses,” said Média Participations group deputy CEO Julien Papelier.
“We want to create more and more synergies thanks to our cross-media ecosystem and the know-how of the new team around Caroline Audebert, Managing director of Ellipse Animation, and Lila Hannou, VP Creative Development and Strategy, who will lead this change alongside Belvision in Belgium”, he added.
“This new brand will enable us to make our offer more visible, especially internationally, to reconnect with our heritage and to pursue an offensive strategy for the future. Our ambition is to produce 4 to 6 series and one feature film per year by 2024. We have already developed some projects with other production companies. We speed up our pace and open the doors to new collaborations with French and international producers,” said Audebert.
“We are consolidating our production facilities, with our three studios Ellipse Paris, Ellipse Angoulême, MadLab Roubaix studios and the collaboration of DreamWall in Belgium, we are able to have 500 posts to take on the most ambitious projects,” added Audebert.
“Diversity is very important to us. Not only in the content we create, but more globally, in the vision we have of our business. Starting with the production team (Gaëlle Guiny, Pierre Reyssat, Audrey Serre) who work with us. Coming from different backgrounds, they bring their know-how, their expertise, their passion, their sensitivity and their different points of view, allowing us to constantly enrich our project list,” said Lila Hannou.
While Ellipse Animation has a solid in-house production ecosystem for both 3D and 2D, it can count on the support of its two historical and strategic partners: Belvision in Belgium for production and Mediatoon Distribution in France for international distribution.
“Belvision has been an iconic player in Belgium since the 1950s. We are very proud to have several projects in co-production with Ellipse Animation, including Living with Dad, The Marsupilamis ,The Fox-Badger Family, etc. We explore many genres, but always with a unique Belgian touch,” said Belvision GM Raphaële Ingberg.
As for Mediatoon Distribution and Citel, whose objective is to help finance, distribute and monetise projects worldwide, they have the largest animation catalogue in Europe, with more than 4,000 hours of work, as well as the largest offering of Japanese Anime (with titles such as Naruto, Hunter X Hunter and Fairy Tail).
“For more than 20 years, we have taken great pleasure in supporting the productions of our in-house studios (Ellipse Animation and Belvision), as well as those of external partner studios (Bayard Animation, Folivari, Futurikon, Kodansha, Media Valley, Studio Pierrot, Toon Factory, and so on). This complementarity allows us to address all genres and targets. Our VOD, DVD, games, music, licensing and publishing activities go on to complete the package to further maximise our partners’ revenues (and also enrich the experience of our fans and consumers),” said MD Jérôme Alby.
From preschool blockbusters to adult animation, Ellipse Animation addresses all audiences and embraces all genres: comedy, slapstick, adventure, action, … Caroline Audebert and Lila Hannou’s team has successfully developed all formats: series (The Marsupilamis, Belfort & Lupin, Living with Dad...), feature films (Yakari…), TV specials and even theme park attractions (The Marsupilamis for the Parc Spirou), using different techniques for different styles: 2D, 3D or hybrid.
Dreamland– After the massive success of Roger and his humans created with the YouTuber Cyprien and his over one million followers on YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, Ellipse Animation has unveiled it new teen-adult project developed with La Chouette Compagnie and ADN, Média Participations’ dedicated animation platform.
“At ADN, we are proud to partner with Ellipse Animation and La Chouette Cie to produce Dreamland. As a French streaming platform dedicated to animation, we are very excited to start producing quality original content. We can’t wait for audiences to discover Dreamland and for other ambitious projects like this one to see the light of day in Europe,” said ADN président Benoît de Tauriac.
Dreamland has been adapted from the best-selling manga of the same name by Reno Lemaire and published by Pika. It takes the viewer into the world of Terrence, a teenager who has been terrified of fire ever since his mother died in a fire when he was only seven years old. The teaser presented at the press conference will be broadcast on ADN’s Youtube channel on 20 June.
“One night, while dreaming, he overcomes his fear by being able to control fire. He then becomes a traveller, a special kind of dreamer who every night, while he sleeps, is transported to Dreamland, the world of dreams,” said the series producer for La Chouette Compagnie Sylvain dos Santos.
Production in progress and new projects:
Adaptations of IPs from the Média-Participations catalogue, of course, and also adaptations of books from other publishers and original creations, Ellipse Animation is banking on diversity for its new projects.
• Upper preschool hits
The Smurfs 2: Produced in collaboration with Peyo Productions, this full-CGI series was a huge success in 140 territories, internationally on Nickelodeon channels, in Germany on Kika and in France on TF1. The 3D animation series in 52 x 11 format which is targeted at six to 10-year-olds.
The series is being directed by William Renaud, while Véronique Culliford, Nele De Wilde and Brigitte Ickmans for Peyo Productions; Caroline Duvochel and Maïa Tubiana for Dupuis Edition et Audiovisuel serve as the producers.
Marsupilamis: It is in development for M6-Gulli. In this series Ellipse Animation reinterprets the world of cult comic book characters in 3D for five-seven-year-olds. The development of Marsupilamis (52 x 13’) with strong international potential is accompanied by a genuine brand strategy within Média-Participations: video games, comic books, children’s books, numerous licensing possibilities.
The twins Jade and Mica have taken in 3 adorable young Marsupilamis… who can’t hold still! It won’t be easy for our duo to keep the secret and protect these legendary creatures.
• Highly varied youth programmes
Trotro and Zaza: This is one of the strongest preschool IPs of the last 20 years (Export Award in 2017). The first series is currently being broadcast worldwide, including on major platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Netflix. The series in which the famous little donkey will face a challenge: becoming a big brother. Trotro and Zaza will be presented at the next Cartoon Forum.
The series in 78×3’30 ’/rendu 2D format will be directed by Alexandre Coste and Benedicte Guettier serves as the graphic author.
The Fox-Badger Family 2: The first season won the Unifrance Audiovisual Export Award in 2020. Ellipse Animation and Belvision are currently producing season two of the adventures of this happy blended family for viewers above four years.
Florian Ferrier serves as the director of the series based on the comic books by Brigitte Luciani and Eve Tharlet and published by Dargaud.
Akissi: The TV special adaptation of the adventures of the intrepid little girl created by Marguerite Abouet and Matthieu Sapin was aired on 15 June on France 4 and on 16 June on Boomerang Africa.
Marguerite Abouet, Louise Cailliez and Baptiste Grosfilley are the writers of the show. It is based on the original comic book published by Gallimard Jeunesse ‘Akissi’ by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin which was inspired by the graphic universe of Clément Oubrerie.
The show is produced by Arthur Colignon for Ellipsanime Productions while Caroline Audebert and Caroline Duvochel serve as executive producers and Agelin Paul as line producer. Alexandre Coste has directed the 26’, 2D animation show for six to 10 year olds.
Living with Dad: It is the adaptation of Nob’s comic book Dad, whose presentation was very well received at the Cartoon Forum in Toulouse last September. Currently in production at Ellipse Animation and Belvision, the series will be broadcast on M6 before the end of 2022.
Living with Dad is directed by Daniel Klein and Cyril Deydier serves as the writer. The 2D animation in 52 x 11’ format is targeted towards six to 11 year olds.
• Other original productions
Versailles Unleashed: Created by writer Teddy Stehly, this original series is currently in development for France Télévisions in France. Designed in partnership with the Château de Versailles, the show is for six to 11-year-olds.
It gives them the chance to follow the story of a unique friendship between two extraordinary dogs who are at odds with each other at the court of Louis XIV. Belfort, the King’s favourite spaniel, and his friend Lupin, from the Gardens. It is also an opportunity to get to know the feathered and furry tenants of the castle’s great menagerie and its kitchens.
• Features for a family audience
Ellipse Animation is highly committed to feature films with the idea of producing one film a year. Building on the success of Yakari, a spectacular journey which, despite being released during the pandemic, had more than 350,000 admissions in theatres. It is currently developing Yakari 2 (final title to be announced) which is scheduled for release in 2025.
In this sequel, which focuses on the power of friendship and the magic of totems, Yakari’s friend, Bison Seed, falls into a coma. While the tribe does everything it can to keep him alive, Yakari and Little Thunder go in search of the only being capable of saving him: the fantastic but dangerous bison Thathanka.
Ellipse Animation is also co-developing, with Pan-Européenne, Maybe Movies and Belvision, two feature films adapted from the comic books Lucky Luke and The Legendaries.