Mediawan Kids & Family, the youth entertainment division of the European powerhouse, has acquired a majority stake in Wildseed Studios, the British production company behind “The Last Bus” and “Hungerford.”
The deal marks the first international acquisition of Mediawan Kids & Family, a leading purveyor of animated series and features including “The Little Prince” and “The Little Nicholas,” which premiered at Cannes.
Wildseed Studios was founded in 2013 by Jesse Cleverly (“Eastern Promises”), former head of co-productions and acquisitions at BBC Children’s, and Miles Bullough (“Shaun the Sheep”), former head of broadcast at Aardman Animations. The company’s track record includes a number of hits such as the Netflix live action series “The Last Bus,” the award-winning feature film “Hungerford,” the children’s animation series “Dodo” for Sky Kids and the animated comedy “Counterfeit Cat” for Disney Channel. Upcoming titles include the Sky Kids Special “Ama’s Story.”
“Wildseed Studios is a renowned and well-established U.K. producer with a strong network of international talent and partners. They have a unique take on innovation and a real know-how on talent incubation,” said Julien Borde, president of Mediawan Kids & Family.
Borde said Wildseed Studios “will pursue the development of its own slate of content but also partner with Mediawan studios in Europe to bring new co-productions to the market.” One project teaming Wildseed Studios and another Mediawan banner is already in the pipeline.
“Through this acquisition we’re looking to expand the presence of Kids & Family internationally, in line with what Mediawan has been doing successfully,” Borde continued.
Mediawan Kids & Family will also be able to enrich its catalogue with new animation and live action content and extend its network of international talent.
Borde, an animation industry veteran who previously held senior positions at WarnerMedia and France Televisions, said Wildseed Studios will allow Mediawan Kids & Family to bring together French and British talents on ambitious projects.
Bullough said it was always Wildseed Studio’s intention to join a bigger group. “We started the company with outside investors, and it was our promise to them that one day we would realize value for them,” he said.
“We were also looking for an opportunity to be part of a larger group and not be quite so exposed to the the occasional ups and downs of our industry, and we wanted [to land in a group] that could help us grow and take our company to the next level,” explained Bullough, whose credits include “Wallace and Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep.” “Mediawan Kids & Family is incredibly experienced and well known in our industry and can help us to invest and grow the company to something even something bigger and and even more successful.”
Cleverly, meanwhile, said “the beautiful thing about Mediawan is that they’ve got real scope.” “If you say we want to connect with someone who understands NFTs and Web3, for instance, they get it right away. So it’s a very 360-degree view and 360-degree kind of enablement,” he said.
Cleverly added that very few global media groups have such as a deep expertise in kids/family and young adults, and most large U.K. companies “don’t really have a kids business.”
“As the audience fragments and as the market evolves, you need to put IP at the center of every conversation, so being able to partner with a company with the scale and the 360-degree view like Mediawan makes us think we can navigate into the future together,” he said.
The producer, who previously worked on many award winning films such as “Eastern Promises” during his tenure at BBC Films, said Wildseed Studios was “built as a talent identification and IP incubation hub” and will maintain this mandate going forward.
Other Mediawan Kids & Family labels include Method Animation, whose credits include “Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir,” and ON Classics, the banner behind the BAFTA-nominated “The Little Prince,” and “Little Nicolas – Happy as Can Be,” and Somewhere Animation (“Chefclub Adventures”), among others.
“We are thrilled with this new partnership,” said Elisabeth d’Arvieu, managing director of Mediawan Pictures. “After Italy and the development of an Animation branch within our studio Palomar, it is a new establishment in a territory where animation is key, matching perfectly with our European studio strategy we are developing on all our genres.”
Mediawan Kids & Family previously partnered with Joann Sfar (“The Rabbi’s Cat,” “Little Vampire”) in 2018 to launch Magical Society, a studio dedicated to the development and production of series and films based on Sfar’s IP’s. The company has also forged a partnership with Sylvain Chomet, the BAFTA-winning, four-time Oscar nominated director of “Triplets of Belleville” and “The Illusionist.”
Within the last few months, Mediawan acquired a majority stake in Brad Pitt’s production vehicle and launched an L.A.-based production banner, Blue Morning Pictures, with “The Father” director Florian Zeller and former CAA agent Federica Sainte-Rose.