×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

3D fuels French animation boom

Toon producers eye increased market share with stereo

The box office success of stereoscopic 3D has had the unexpected side effect of causing a boom in animation in Gaul.

With 3D boosting toon grosses, not only are more animated features being made — at wildly varying budgets — but more companies, including post houses, digital labs and vfx and TV animation vendors, are becoming producers to get into the toon game.

But in an increasingly competitive 3D market dominated by Hollywood tentpoles, the financing stakes for French toon producers are higher than ever.

“There are multiple incentives driving this upward trend,” says Erwan Maigret, a DreamWorks alumnus who co-founded the Bakery, a French 3D technology company specializing in developing software for 3D computer graphics industry. “For a 10% to 15% budget increase, French producers and distributors know they can take a bigger market share with a 3D animated film, and typically, animated films sell up to three times more DVDs.”

Plus, France is well-positioned to ride the 3D toon wave.

For a foundation, Gaul boasts a pool of industry vets — Buf founder Pierre Buffin, Mac Guff co-founder Jacques Bled, Cube Creative topper Lionel Fages and Team To co-creator Guillaume Hellouin, among others — who have developed the software and industrial capacity to make animated features cost-effectively.

“Moving into feature-length animated projects is a necessary step forward for these companies,” says Olivier-Rene Veillon, prexy of the Ile de France Film Commission. “It allows them to perfect their tools and acquire even more skills.”

For top commercials and TV toon shingles like Team To and Cube Creative, leaping into stereoscopic animated features is the next step, one which doesn’t require a massive investment in equipment, software and staff.

“These outfits are able to use the same pipeline, generate recurrent revenues with their TV activity and optimize their business expenses,” says Maigret.

Cube Creative, for instance, has been working on stereoscopic animation for a while, notably on high-concept 3D commercials and park rides. Shingle delivered the first French TV toon pilot in stereo 3D, “Kaeloo,” to paybox Canal Plus in 2007.

But in an increasingly competitive 3D market dominated by Hollywood tentpoles, the stakes for French toon producers are higher than ever.

“There seems to be more opportunities to find partners, but at the same time, the market is tough. Buyers and distributors expect top-notch product to come onboard,” explains Hellouin.

Fages concurs: “You can manage to find €8 million in France with the French TV pre-buys, subsidies and tax rebates, but you need about €12 million to make a 3D film. To fill that gap, you must make concessions in order to meet potential partners’ expectations.”

Fages says he’s reworking the script on “Flying Bazaar!!” and is in the process of making another pilot with a more elaborate design to be eligible for CNC funds and close a deal with a distributor and sales agent.

Pascal Herold, founder of Paris-based production outfit Herold Family and its animation and vfx studio, Delacave, shares somewhat similar concerns over the financing of his feature, “Cinderella 3.” He explains he’s working on a bigger budget and placing a larger emphasis on the story than he did for his previous toon, “Le Chat Botte.”

“We’ve already raised about €1 million in pre-sales and we’re hoping to reach €2 to €3 million at Berlin and Cannes,” Herold says.

Adds Maigret: “In the age of 2D films, producers basically just needed a few talented animators to pull it together, because the film’s quality was mainly based on the drawing.

“Today, if you want to make a stereo 3D animated hit, which can travel well and generate twice or three times your investment, you need to assemble about 10 departments with experts, ranging from directors to animators and vfx supervisors. And it’s difficult to do that with a budget under €20 million.”

Harold Van Lier, topper of Studio Canal’s international sales, says that while the 3D element continues to spark buyers’ curiosity and has a commercial impact on most animated films, there will likely be a saturation of 3D products hitting the market.

“Buyers will concentrate on films which truly need 3D technology to provide a real spectacle, as did Ben Stassen’s ‘Sammy’s Adventure,’ or films which stand out artistically like Michel Ocelot’s ‘Tales of the Night,’ where 3D highlights the shadow-play animation.”

Bled, who previously co-produced “Azur and Asmar” with Nord Ouest Films and “Dragon Hunters” with Futurikon film, says that “in France, we have talented animators and we’re up-to-date on the technical stuff, but we’re lacking real storytelling skills, which the U.S. studios have been cultivating for decades.”

One way to bring the best of both worlds is to tap a U.S. director to work on a French project, says producer Dimitri Rassam. Rassam tapped “Kung Fu Panda” director Mark Osborne to helm and co-pen “The Little Prince,” which he’s developing with partner Aton Soumache.

More from the French VFX and Animation report
3D fuels French animation boom | Pics on board for new TRIP | 3D F/X stalled in Gaul

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Hulu With Live TV

    Hulu Live TV Tops Sling TV as No. 1 Streaming Pay-TV Service, Analysts Estimate

    Hulu With Live TV has edged out Dish Network’s Sling TV to take the crown as the biggest virtual pay-television service in the U.S., according to new analyst estimates. They were among the only winners amid the cord-cutting carnage that slashed through the sector in the third quarter. As of the end of the third [...]

  • Mubi India

    Mubi Launches Two VoD Channels in India

    Film specialist streaming platform Mubi launched on Friday in India with two channels, Mubi India and Mubi World. The channels are available together for an introductory offer of INR 199 ($2.75) for three months. Thereafter the channels will cost INR 499 ($7) a month or INR 4788 ($66.75) annually. For Mubi India, a channel dedicated [...]

  • U.K. Producer Barcroft Studios Sold to

    U.K.-Based Producer Barcroft Studios Sold to Future in $30 Million Deal

    Barcroft Studios has been bought by Future in a £23.5 million ($30.1 million) deal. The U.K.-based production outfit specializes in factual fare for channels and platforms, and its own branded channels on the likes of YouTube. Future is a U.K.-listed print and online publishing and events business. Sam Barcroft will stay on as CEO at [...]

  • Tye Sheridan

    Tye Sheridan Starring in Survival Thriller 'Wireless' From Steven Soderbergh for Quibi

    Quibi has ordered another show with notable Hollywood talent attached: scripted series “Wireless” starring Tye Sheridan with Steven Soderbergh on board as executive producer. In the made-for-mobile-screens thriller, a smartphone has a central role. Sheridan (“Ready Player One,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) plays a self-obsessed college student who is stranded in the Colorado mountains after he crashes [...]

  • Instagram

    Instagram Testing Hidden Like Counts Globally

    Like counts will be disappearing from Instagram all over the world starting this week: The Facebook-owned photo sharing service is extending its test of hiding like counts to all of its territories, Techcrunch was first to report Thursday morning. Instagram began hiding like counts for a subset of its users in Canada this spring, and [...]

  • Ted Sarandos - Netflix

    Ted Sarandos Says Disney Plus Launch Changes 'Nothing' for Netflix

    Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos claims he’s not getting distracted by huge competitors — like Disney — rumbling into the company’s streaming turf. The exec was asked what has changed for Netflix with the Nov. 12 launch of Disney Plus, which the Mouse House boasted as having signed up over 10 million users so [...]

  • Game Awards OrchestraThe Game Awards, Show,

    Game Awards 2019 to Play on 53 Cinemark Screens Alongside 'Jumanji: The Next Level'

    This year’s Game Awards, recognizing the top video games, creators and esports of 2019, is coming to the silver screen. In a three-way partnership, the Game Awards, Cinemark Theatres and Sony Pictures are teaming on a superticket program pairing the Dec. 12 live simulcast of the 2019 Game Awards in 53 Cinemark locations with a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content