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Nick licenses ‘Raving Rabbids’

Show will air in 2013 in deal with France's Ubisoft

Gaul’s Ubisoft Motion Pictures has forged a global licensing deal with Nickelodeon on “Raving Rabbids,” its first inhouse production.

Based on its hit game franchise, “Raving Rabbids” is a CGI animated comedy series turning on the zany adventures of a bunch of wacky rabbit-eared critters.

The series, which comprises 78 seven-minute episodes, has been commissioned by pubcaster France Televisions.

Nickelodeon secured global broadcast rights outside France and will package and air the series as 26 half-hour episodes across its channels beginning in 2013.

“This partnership with Nickelodeon is a major milestone in Ubisoft’s strategy to expand its brands to new media, thereby attracting new audiences to its games,” said Ubisoft Motion Pictures CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet.

Paris-based Ubisoft Motion Pictures will work with a pool of screenwriters from France, the U.S., U.K. and Japan, as well as a group of international storyboard artists. Ten directors will be tapped to work on the show.

Ubisoft’s French studios will handle development, layout, lighting, texturing, compositing and storyboarding to maintain as much editorial and artistic control as possible, said Baronnet, adding that Ubisoft will also cover post-production, delegating only a small part of the fabrication to another company.

Created by Ubisoft in 2006, “Raving Rabbids”‘ videogames and online videos have attracted more than 41 million fans on YouTube.

“Our goal is to create a television series that is as hilarious and unexpected as the game, and respects its DNA to make the fans happy,” Baronet said. “But we’re also looking to add some layers to the jokes to make the show appealing to kids and adult audiences alike.”

The TV series is fully financed through Ubisoft’s deals with Nickelodeon and France Televisions.

Previously, CEO of EuropaCorp, Baronnet took the helm of Ubisoft Motion Pictures when it launched in January and appointed his EuropaCorp colleague Jean de Rivieres as senior VP of international marketing and distribution, with Didier Lupfer as senior VP of production and development.

Baronnet has a good track record, said Jean-Baptiste Sergeant, analyst at French research company Gilbert Dupont. “In less than two years at EuropaCorp, Baronnet managed to finalize the acquisition of Cipango, one of France’s top TV production companies, and sign EuropaCorp’s first output deal with Universum in Germany.”

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