Toon series to be sold at MipTV

ROME — New Italo TV distrib Panini Media has acquired worldwide rights, excluding Japan, Russia and New Zealand, to British toon series “Simon’s Cat,” a YouTube phenom that will topline its debut slate at next month’s MipTV mart.

Skein about a hungry cat and his antics to get food, created by Brit animator Simon Tofield, draws millions of YouTube fans. It has spawned a book published in 27 countries, a syndicated print cartoon in Blighty’s the Daily Mirror newspaper, and a growing merchandising side.

The first series of “Cat” shorts has already sold to Italy’s La7.

Panini Media is a subsidiary of the Panini Group, a trading cards, collectibles and comic book specialist active in more than 100 territories, with revenue of more than $1 billion.

Move into TV distribution signals the arrival of a new Italo publishing player with international ambitions, following in the footsteps of De Agostini, which controls Zodiak Media.

At MipTV Panini Media, headed by Bruno Zarka, will also sell international rights to $9 million-budgeted sci-fi series “Metal Hurlant Chronicles,” adapted from the Gallic comicbook anthology, plus the $13 million-budgeted astrology-based “Signs,” from Canada’s XII Tribes Entertainment, and $12 million-budgeted Swedish crimer “Jorsdkott.”

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