Animator, ad conglom Dentsu pact on projects

Japanese advertising conglom Dentsu is partnering with L.A.-based animator DIC as a co-producer on the upcoming series “Alienators: Evolution Continues,” taking distribution rights in Japan and some other Asian territories.

The agreement also calls for Dentsu to represent DIC’s ongoing animated series “Madeline” for TV and homevideo distribution and for licensing and merchandising in Japan.

Deal reflects newly reinvigorated moves by ad agencies to get involved in the co-financing of TV projects worldwide.

As the co-producer of “Alienators,” Dentsu has already invested several million dollars in the project. And the two companies are exploring other DIC properties on which to partner utilizing this model.

“Japan has been the most difficult territory for American animation producers to penetrate. With Dentsu behind us, we will not only be able to place our shows, we will also be able to negotiate far more lucrative deals when we do,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of DIC Entertainment, said in a statement.

Regional boost

Currently, American animation companies generate only about 5% of global program revenues from Asia. Deal with Dentsu is meant to boost that percentage.

“This investment is a groundbreaking opportunity for Dentsu to align with a leader in the children’s entertainment industry while leveraging our important business relationships throughout Japan and Asia,” Kiichi Matsui, chief producer in the entertainment business division of Dentsu, told Daily Variety.

Matsui added that the ad giant has in the past partnered on other U.S. film productions as an investor, but that the deal with DIC is the first such investment in the animation field.

Since its founding in 1983, DIC has produced over 100 toon series and 3,000 episodes, including “Inspector Gadget” and “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?”

(Lukas Schwarzacher in Tokyo contributed to this report.)

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