Besson Back in Toon Biz

EuropaCorp, Lagardere Team on ‘Arthur’ Toon TV Series

Luc Besson

ANNECY — Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp is teaming with Gallic conglom Lagardere Active, a major French force in kids’ TV entertainment, to develop an animated 3D TV adventure series inspired by Besson’s “Arthur and the Invisibles” movie trilogy.

After EuropaCorp announced it was pulling out of feature animation – it released its last animation film movie, “Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart,” which will receive an open-air screening at Annecy Friday, on Feb. 5 – the “Arthur and the Invisibles” skein marks a return to animation, but in TV, where exposure to loss is far more limited.

Conceived as a 52 part, 15-minute seg series, “Arthur and the Invisibles” will target kids 5-8.

Series will take the set-up and main characters from the movies and indeed Besson’s children’s books, on which they were in turn based: the miniature Minimoys, a pacific tribe, are threatened by the dastardly warrior Maltazard; Arthur, whose lies over-ground with his grandmother, can become a Minimoy, and battles Maltazard, accompanied by Princes Selena and her little brother Beta.

Stories will, however be new. The series will play on Lagardere free-to-air kids channels TiJi , for under-7s, and youth-family service Gulli, which, together with Canal J, gives Lagardere Activea13.6% market share of 4-10 kids auds.

A Lagardere’s deal with Zagtoon to produce a TV series of “Arthur and the Invisibles” was confirmed in 2010. But it never played out.

“Arthur” reps one of two “ambitious development pacts” – in the words of Gerald-Brice Viret, niche channel prexy and Caroline Cochaux, programming-channels CEO – out of a total 25 youth-family projects confirmed at Annecy Animation Festival by Lagardere in its now traditional announcement of upcoming animation projects that it will co-finance with French producers.

Billed by Lagardere as a “high-energy comedy about learning,” the second, based on the 1985 hit U.S. TV series, and set up at France’s Method Animation, is toon series “Popples,” co-produced with Haim Saban’s Saban Brands and Zagtoon, from “Inspector Gadget” creator Jean Chalopin.

At Annecy, Lagardere also announced that “Dans ma bulle” and “Allo…Chloe?” shared its 2014 Hopes of Animation Prize, which targets short-form movies from French animation school students.

Turning on the topic of human folly, “Bulle” is helmed by Matthieu Daures, Agathe Leroux, Paola de Sousa and Noemie Gauthier at ESSAT. La Poudriere’s RezaAmirriahi helmed “Chloe.”

Matt Grobar contributed to this report