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U.K.’s Just takes Optical approach

Move follows company's recent shift into kids TV prod.

LONDON — The U.K.’s Just Group has acquired animation house Optical Image for £1.5 million ($2.2 million). Another $2 million may be paid contingent on Optical’s performance over the next two years.

Move is in line with Just’s recent shift into kids TV production. Company’s core interests have been licensing, publishing and merchandising children’s properties.

Push into programming through new subsid Just Entertainment is led by the $8 million, 26-episode half-hour “Butt-Ugly Martians,” which will debut on the ITV network in the U.K., likely in time for Christmas.

Computer-animated series is a co-production with L.A.-based Mike Young Prods.; Just is providing $6 million of the budget.

Just chief exec Wilf Shorrocks said both Warner and Fox Kids have expressed interest in the show, geared to a 4- to 11-year-old demographic.

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