Net pre-buys toon for U.S., int'l prior to Mipcom

PARIS — Zodiak Kids’ Marathon Media, one of France’s top purveyors of hit toon skeins, is upping the ante with its new project “Blake and the Aliens” (working title), collaborating with Nickelodeon from concept stage.

The animated series was pre-bought by Nickelodeon for the U.S. and international as well as Gallic kids’ network Gulli in the run up to Cannes’ Mipcom TV market, which kicks off Oct. 8.

Marathon Media general manager David Michel described “Blake” as “a comedy in the vein of the classic Tex Avery about a 12-year-old boy chased by alien squirels from the future.”

Michel, who runs the shingle with Vincent Chalvon, said the toon is its first presale to a U.S. net. “We’re learning so much from working directly with an American network and collaborating with the Nickelodeon team.”

Nickelodeon has previously acquired a number of Marathon Media series, including season six of “Totally Spies.”

“Over the past few years, as our global platforms have continued to expand, we have actively been pursuing co-development partnerships around pre-buy acquisitions,” said Jules Borkent, Nickelodeon’s senior VP of global acquisitions and international programming.

“Working with partners like Marathon Media, who have a strong global perspective and a great track record in kids content, is key to this model and ‘Blake and the Aliens’ is a good example where both of our creative teams will work together from concept through final production.”

Toon is also Marathon Media’s first board-driven animated series.

“Up until now we’ve only made script-driven shows,” said Michel. “The board-driven model is effective for cartoons like ‘SpongeBobSquarePants’ or ‘The Simpsons’ but it’s almost exclusively used in the U.S. because there are very few storyboard artists who can do it all: tell a story with images on top of supervising all the visual elements.”

Marathon Media tapped storyboarders Kaz Prapuolenis and Antoine Guilbaud (both “Phineas and Ferb” alumns) to work on the English-language series, which comprises 52 11-minute episodes.

Marathon Media’s portfolio of international toon franchises includes “Rekkit,” “Redakai: Conquer the Kairu,” “Monster Buster Club” and “Gormiti.”

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