×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French Toon Studio TeamTO Blossoms at 10, Sells ‘YellowBird’ Abroad

Turning 10 this year, TeamTO has blossomed into one of France’s top animation producers, forging ties with local and international players and diving into feature films.

Boasting sprawling high-tech facilities in Paris and Bourg-les-Valences (near Lyon), TeamTO raised its profile thanks to in-house-produced hit TV skeins like “Angelo Rules,” “Oscar & Co” and “Plankton Invasion.” Now advancing into the next chapter of its growth, the shingle’s first feature-length toon, “Yellowbird” is already an international sales hit. Repped by SC Films, the animated pic has been acquired by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group for a flurry of territories, including the U.K. and Australia.

“We’re managed to make ‘Yellowbird’ with a 10 million Euros budget, which is much less than the price tags of ‘Little Prince’ and ‘Mune’ and yet our film boasts the same drive to travel worldwide thanks to ambitious storytelling and well-polished animation designs,” said Corrine Kouper, TeamTO’s co-founder, head of development and exec producer.

“YellowBird” has proven TeamTO’s Hollywood calling card: After screening the movie at the latest CTN Animation Expo confab in Burbank, TeamTO was approached by a U.S. studio interested in tapping the French companies to work on TV series and possibly movies.

While details of this eventual transatlantic partnership are still under wraps, Guillaume Hellouin, TeamTO’s prexy, producer and co-founder, said the U.S. shingle was impressed with TeamTO’s ability to produce high-quality animation with a limited budget. “U.S. studios have growing needs to feed their pipeline in multiple markets in a cost-effective way; as a result they’re eager to source out companies outside the U.S. to do some of the work,” said Hellouin.

This kind of French-American alliance is a building trend that was bolstered by the collaboration between Universal’s Illumination Entertainment and Mac Guff that gave birth to worldwide smash hits “Despicable Me” and its sequel, “Despicable Me 2.”

With its improved tax rebate for international productions whose cap will be raised to 30% and rebate upped to 30 million Euros, France is well positioned to become a leader purveyor of animation worldwide, explained Hellouin, who is himself a 3D pioneer in Gaul. Indeed, even if France’s animation crews are pricier than Asian ones, they benefit from having a strong reputation, mainly due to its topnotch schools such as the Gobelins.

Aiming to forge closer relationships with U.S. studios and source new projects and talent, the company recently launched a Los Angeles-based office headed by Lenora Hume, former senior VP of international productions for Walt Disney. Thanks to this expansion, TeamTO was hired by Disney TV animation to create parts of the episodes of “Sofia The First”‘s third season.

One of the key’s to TeamTO’s rising international profile lies in its endeavor to collaborate with overseas talent and executives. For instance, “Yellowbird” brought together helmer Christian de Vita (who worked as lead story artist on ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and ‘Frankenweenie’), animation designer Benjamin Renner (“Ernest and Celestine”), composer composer Stephen Warbeck (“Shakespeare in Love”), and a voice cast headlined by Seth Green, Brady Corbet and Dakota Fanning.

TeamTO is also new-media savvy. Case in point: The studio created As the Birds Fly, a “Yellowbird”-themed arcade game for iOS and Google Play allowing players to alternatively simulate the flight of Yellowbird and his fellow birds. Thinking 360′, TeamTO also delivered two illustrated albums which came out as the same as the movie’s large theatrical release in France, which was handled by Haut et Court in February. The toonpic was also released in Russia, where it ranked within the B.O. top 10 during three consecutive weeks.

TeamTO is now developing a second feature, “Les Artificiels” with Arthur Qwak on board to co-write with Patricia Valeix and direct. The project, which skews teenagers and young adults, is conceived as a hybrid live action/animation and is based on Emmanuel Lepas’ characters.

“‘Les Artificiels’ underscores our eclectic tastes – it marks a big departure from ‘Yellowbird’ which mainly appeals to kids and family audiences, but it shares the same ambition to become an internationally-driven feature,” explained Kouper.

The project is already backed by the French national film board, CNC, and TeamTO is looking to partner up with foreign producers.

Meanwhile, TeamTO remains active on the TV front: It’s producing the third season of “Angelo Rules” and will be introducing a new show, “Mon chevalier et moi” (co-produced by Thuristar and pre-bought by Canal Plus and Super RTL) at Annecy. TeamTO is also exec producing the animation of “Raving Rabbids’s third season for Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Nickelodeon and France 3.

More TV

  • American Son review

    'American Son' Set for Netflix Adaptation With Kerry Washington, Original Broadway Cast

    The Broadway play “American Son” is set to be adapted for Netflix. Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan, and Eugene Lee will reprise their roles in the Netflix production. Kenny Leon returns to direct and produce, with Jeffrey Richards and Rebecca Gold serving as producers. Washington and Pilar Savone of Washington’s Simpson Street banner will [...]

  • Anthony Scaramucci to participate in the

    Anthony Scaramucci Light on Trump Talk in 'Celebrity Big Brother' Premiere

    CBS reality show “Big Brother” loves to tell its audience to “expect the unexpected,” but things went pretty much according to the assumed with Anthony Scaramucci on the second season premiere of the celebrity edition of the show. Right from his introductory package, Scaramucci had to acknowledge he was fired from the White House, “for [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Tyler Perry: 6 Lessons He Shared at NATPE's 'Living the Dream' Summit

    MIAMI — Tyler Perry took time out of his “Madea’s Farewell” live stage tour and spent his Martin Luther King Jr. holiday giving an inspiring speech to aspiring producers and students gathered here for the annual NATPE convention. Perry was the keynoter Monday at the conference’s first ever “Living the Dream: A Career in Content” session [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • New England Patriots running back Sony

    CBS and Fox Cheer Big Turnout for NFL Conference Championships

    Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games were nail-biters that went into overtime and sent viewership into overdrive. CBS harvested a whopping 53.9 million viewers as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his team to their third consecutive Super Bowl berth in a hard-fought primetime game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Viewership for the AFC [...]

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 21, 2019: 'Rent,' 'Celebrity Big Brother'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Rent: Live” airs on Fox and “Celebrity Big Brother” returns for a second [...]

  • Black Monday: How Showtime Dusted Off

    'Black Monday': How Showtime Dusted Off An Old '80s Logo For Its New Comedy

    Cocaine’s a hell of a drug, but you’re not seeing things: That, indeed is Showtime’s old 1980s-era logo pasted all over marketing materials and promos for “Black Monday,” a tongue-in-cheek tale of the excesses exhibited by Wall Street traders in the lead-up to the stock market crash of 1987. The logo, which hasn’t been in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content