DQE seizes opportunity in Indian animation biz

Variety Junior 2011

The fledgling Indian animation sector, mostly dominated by kids’ television producers, is on a roll. PricewaterhouseCoopers valued it at $510 million last year while projecting a 20% annual growth rate, seeing expansion to $1.27 billion by 2015.

While Crest Animation and Toonz Animation remain strong players in the kids’ animation arena, DQ Entertainment is riding on several international co-productions.

Tapaas Chakravarti, a fan of Disney animation, Marvel and DC Comics and India’s best-known comicbook brand Amar Chitra Katha, founded DQE in 1999. Like other Indian animation houses, DQE’s initial business model was to offer cost-effective pure- service options, but this soon changed.

“It was almost like the animation world and its possibilities were lying dormant in front of me, waiting to unfold,” says Chakravarti.

The new plan was intellectual property ownership, co-productions and global distribution. To this end, DQE teamed with toon houses Onyx Films, Method Animation, the Moonscoop Group and several other global companies.

“Aligning with successful global partners has been a key factor,” Chakravarti says. “It is important to keep an open mind and be willing to learn from others, especially when you know they have had a head-start on you in this space.”

The result was a flood of properties that are household names including “The Jungle Book,” “Peter Pan,” “Lassie and Friends,” “Iron Man,” “Charlie Chaplin,” “Casper,” “The Adventures of Young Robin Hood” and “The Little Prince.”

“We have to be convinced that there is value in the investment and have been careful to choose properties that are classic or iconic and have existing brand recognition,” says Chakravarti.

DQE has raised $100 million to fund its expansion plans. These include investing in Indian IP, a wise move in a market known for its insatiable appetite for local programming.

The Indian animation industry represents an untapped and rapidly growing market,” Chakravarti says. “We have partnered with Disney India, Nick India and Cartoon Network to develop content based on Indian mythology, folklore and writings like detective series ‘Feluda’ by famous personalities such as Satyajit Ray. These properties are already attracting interest from broadcasters worldwide, and we are happy to carry these to global audiences.”

The company also has plans for feature film versions of “Jungle Book” and “Peter Pan.” Meanwhile, its international television co-productions continue apace.

Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious,” says Christophe di Sabatino, group executive chairman of Moonscoop says of DQE.

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