ANNECY — Capitalising on the advantages of handling its own exports, Paris and Angouleme-based Normaal and Paris-based Studio Hari have both launched international sales arms.
Normaal has kicked off its sales activities with “On Off,” a no-dialog 52-episode series sold to Scandinavia, Asia, North America, Middle East and Africa. Its slate also includes “Oscar & Hoo,” targeting older school children and based on books illustrated by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Dudok De Wit (“Father and Daughter”). Another Normal banner title is tyke-targeting “Hello World” whose pilot won an Annecy Cristal for best TV production last year. Normaal has in development four adaptations of iconic international brands, among them Betty Boop.
CGI specialist Studio-Hari set up its new division Hari International in May. It is led by Adeline Tormo – formerly a VP at Gaumont Television Intl. Distribution. Studio Hari has produced no-dialog “Grizzy and the Lemmings,” pre-sold worldwide to Turner’s Boomerang and France Télévisions.
“The international sales of our series were managed by multi-genre distribution subsidiaries belonging to TV broadcasters, with thousands of hours of programming in their portfolio,” said Marie Lassal, a producer at Normaal.
But “animation is a very specific television genre which requires a long-term selling strategy and a special handling to give the program a long life and many operating cycles,” she countered.
Lassal added that a direct connection with distribution department allows the company to show its productions to broadcasters at an early stage, boosting pre-sales.
“We have always wanted to be clearly identified by buyers and our partners through the type of programs we produce and by our editorial line,” says Hari co-founder Josselin Charier.
While Charier and Antoine Rodelet, Hari Studio co-founder, are the producers and creators of their products, “getting control of the exploitation of our IPs was the natural next step for us,” Charier added.
According to a report by France’s CNC film-TV agency, in 2014 international sales of animation slipped by 3.9% to €45.0 million ($50.7 million). That dip, however, followed five consecutive years of growth between 2009 and 2013. One major cause was a drop in production volumes, as producers held back from going into production on new series in the expectation of a rise in CNC incentives for animation.
According to Mathieu Bejot, executive director at Television France Intl. export org, the underlying trend in animation exports remains positive.
“In France as in the other countries, TV channels are being subjected to increasing competition from the VOD providers. In this environment, buying decisions are slow to come,” Lassal argued.
“The market is changing. Historical TV channels have seen income fall -which has a direct effect on the acquisition budgets,” Charier said. But “new business models and opportunities have arisen. In our perspective, content is king.”