Record number of industryites make trek to Mip Junior

A record number of industryites made the trek to Cannes for Mip Junior, the international mart for kids’ programming, with some concerned about the contracting tyke production biz.

Execs at the two-day event, which wrapped Sunday, noted the downfall of a number of mid-sized companies that have either closed or merged.

“The middle ground is going,” said Billy Macqueen of U.K. indie Darrall Macqueen, citing Chorion, which has sunk under debts of $109 million, and Blighty’s Cake Entertainment, which will soon be bought out. “We’re left with the big companies and then there is an array of smaller boutique companies, which are able to find international partners and finance shows that way,” Macqueen said.

Jules Borkent, senior VP of global acquisitions and programming at Nickelodeon Intl., was more optimistic, noting new players from Brazil, Asia and the Middle East entering the kids’ market.

With its bigger emphasis on licensing and publishing, Mip Junior attracted more than 1,000 participants and 600 buyers, up 25% up vs. 2010. It ended with a humor-filled key note from Sam Register, exec VP of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Animation.

The star of Mip Junior was the Books-to-TV Exchange, a series of events hosted in collaboration with the London Book Fair, aimed at connecting producers with publishers looking to turn their properties into TV shows and vice versa.

A Reed Midem spokesperson said the sidebar was such a success that the next London Book Fair will host a second Books-to-TV Exchange in partnership with Reed Midem. Buyers across the board commented on the large volume of shows screening at the library, which were up 9% in 2010.

“There are loads of pre-school programs, and many good ones, but we’re seeing less and less original, non-toy driven, quality animated programs for tweeners,” said Julien Borde, head of France Televisions’ youth programming.

Canadian animation skeins were the most-watched programs at the library.Toon series “1001 Nights,” sold by Canada’s Big Bad Boo Studios, was the most watched skein in the fest’s library. Series, following the adventures of Aladdin, Sinbad and others in the classic Arabian tales, is in production and has been pre-bought by Teletoon, Canada’s CBC and Al-Jazeera.Gaul’s Xilam’s “Floopaloo, Where Are You?” and PGS Entertainment. repped “Chaplin and Co.,” were the second and the third most-viewed programs throughout the weekend.

Germany’s ZDF Ent.’s “Lighting Point” nabbed the fourth slot while French-Canadian pre-school toon “Bonifacio in Summertime” came in fifth. “Bonifacio” is co-produced by Gaul’s Folimage and has been pre-bought by Gaul’s France 3, Canal Plus Spain and the Czech Republic’s CTV.

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