Paris-based premium kids content distributor Federation Kids & Family, its sister production company Cottonwood Media and European kids entertainment company Planeta Junior are launched a broad-based alliance which links three of the major forces in European animation and children/family entertainment.
The partnership also supplies at least one create answer to opportunities and challenges facing the sector.
Under the multi-year framework deal, Cottonwood Media and Planeta Junior will develop and co-produce a select slate of joint projects; distribution and ancillary rights will be jointly handled by Planeta Junior and Federation Kids & Family.
The global alliance kicks in with 2D animated comedy “Squish,” a 52-part, 11-minute series produced by Cottonwood and French TV channel Gulli and based on the best-selling graphic novels by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, published by Random House Children’s Books. Delivered from mid-2019, “Squish” turns on an amoeba looking to survive in the cut-and-thrust world of single cell organisms, and attend school.
On “Squish,” Planeta Junior will handle distribution in all Europe, outside France, as well as parts of Asia and Latin America, and global licensing outside the U.S., said Ignacio Segura, Planeta Junior general manager.
Titles from both partners can feed into the agreement, which will focus on a select number of projects. “A [new] one a year would be fantastic,” said Michel, who normally has seven-to-nine projects in development at Cottonwood and two-to-three in production.
The partnership joins complementary companies. Cottonwood has no in-house licensing operation, but strong distribution relationships in, for example, France, other parts of Europe and Latin America, and the U.S.
Part of the Grupo Planeta/De Agostin group, Planeta Junior – which continues to invest in its own productions, such as, this year’s “Gormiti,” “Pio Rocks!,” “Beatrix Girls,” “Mutant Busters,” and “Maya the Bee,” is a distribution powerhouse in Southern and Eastern Europe and has a highly developed licensing arm.
“We are very strong in distribution and licensing, Cottonwood and Federation Kids & Family in creation and distribution,” said Ignacio Segura, Planeta Junior general manager.
He added: “We are yoking the commercial force that we have over Europe and some other parts of the world and they will bring their creativity, which is excellent.”
In France and Spain, Planeta Junior is a market leader in publishing of children’s titles. “There are lots of titles we could work on for TV, animation, kids drama, which is one reason why it’s such a good complementary agreement,” said David Michel, president of Cottonwood Media and co-founder of Federation Kids & Family.
The partnership also reflects larger interests.
“We have focused on Southern and Eastern Europe but would like to convert France into a key territory. That can be achieved via “midterm and I hope longtime alliances with great French creators in animation, where France is a powerhouse. One company which was lacking was Cottonwood-Federation K & F,” said Ignacio Segura, Planeta Junior general manager.
“In today’s market you either sell to a platform, which you can do on your own and give up a lot of equity but make a nice margin, or on certain properties, we work old style putting together a number of territories and linear broadcasters,” Michel said.
He added: “Doing this has become, not harder, but there are less opportunities. It’s an area where you want to put your brands together with other strong partners.”
A subsidiary of Federation Ent. with offices in Paris and Los Angeles, Cottonwood Media’s widely sold shows include: animated preschool hit “The Ollie & Moon Show,” sold in 150 countries; and premium live action ballet series “Find Me in Paris,” co-produced with ZDF and ZDF Enterprises.
Planeta Junior holds down distribution/licensing alliances for Europe with two other top French global animation production players, ZagToon (“Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir ”“Power Players”) and Method Animation (“The Little Prince,” “Playmobile”).