Mediawan Kids & Family President Reveals Hunt For Next ‘Miraculous’ As Division Gives Update On Animation Slate At Annecy

It has been a high-profile 12 months for Mediawan Kids & Family thanks to subsidiary Method Animation’s involvement in the Ladybug & Cat Noir franchise, which has been enjoying box office success worldwide with a first feature film adaptation.

The IP, which was first developed as a series in 2015, is now under the umbrella of recently launched entity Miraculous Corp, a joint venture between co-creator Jeremy Zag’s company Zag and Mediawan Kids & Family parent group Mediawan.

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This means that Method Animation is no longer involved in the franchise but Mediawan Kids & Family President Julien Borde says his division is busy developing and producing a raft of animated content, he believes has similar franchise potential.

“It’s one of the most successful independent franchises in the world and a fantastic success story,” he comments on Ladybug & Cat Noir.

“It inspires us to do the same thing with the projects we’re incubating at our different Mediawan Kids & Family labels” he says. “Our ambition is to create new franchises that strike the same chord in the hearts of the public.”

Borde, who was previously Head of Kids and General Entertainment Channels at WarnerMedia for France and also worked at France Télévisions and Disney, has been at the head of Mediawan Kids & Family since its official launch at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2022.

The division currently groups eight companies. There are five French labels spanning Mediawan’s original animation company Method Animation and later additions Somewhere Animation, Elliott Studio, Joann Sfar’s Magical Society and feature-focused Mediawan Kids & Family Cinema.

They are joined by three international subsidiaries: Bristol-based UK company Wildseed Studios, Submarine in the Netherlands and Palomar Animation in Italy.

Wildseed Studios and Submarine are relative newcomers to the Mediawan Kids & Family fold, arriving in the division in 2023.

“We look for companies that are complementary, both territorially and in terms of their types of project, with Method Animation. With Wildseed, we were drawn to its track record in youth fiction, while Submarine had a proven savoir-faire in animated series for adults,” says Borde.

“They’re also led by talented creative producers. Jesse Cleverly and Miles Bullough in the case of Wildseed and Bruno Felix for Submarine,” he continues, adding of all eight companies: “They all have different sensibilities, and types of savoir-faire linked to their histories and geographical locations and talents they have access to.”

Palomar Animation was born out of 2019 animated series The Enchanted Village of Pinocchio, made by Mediawan subsidiary Palomar with Rai. It is currently working on The 3 Musketeers, about three girl musketeers led by the figure of Charlotte d’Artagnan, in partnership with Method Animation for ZDF.

The 3 Musketeers
The 3 Musketeers

“In the two years since our launch, we’ve become one of the biggest animation studios in Europe,” says Borde, who was back in Annecy to give an update on Mediawan Kids & Family’s animation slate in a showcase event on Tuesday.

One area of particular focus for since Mediawan Kids & Family’s launch in 2022 has been the development of content aimed at pre-school children.

“None of the labels were doing much content aimed at that demographic. We’ve since developed a slate of projects with the ambition of making shows that are as strong as hits such as Bluey,” notes Borde.

He cites Method Animation projects Taïtikis, an ocean ecology-themed adventure show being by developed by writer and illustrator Romuald from his comic book series, and Pango, a spin-off of the interactive Pango apps and games, which is being written by Jenny Landerth in cooperation with creators Studio Pango.

Amsterdam-based Submarine, which is better known internationally for adult-focused animations such as feature Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood and Amazon show Undone, has two pre-school shows in production: Pol The Pirate Mouse and Little Charlie.

Pol The Pirate Mouse is adapted from a children’s picture book by Tingue Dongelmans and illustrated by Denise van Leeuwen, while Little Charlie, following the adventures of young rabbit, has German broadcaster ZDF on board as commissioning partner.

On the distribution front, Mediawan Kids & Family are also handling previously international sales on CBeebies show Maddie + Triggs, from Irish studio Turnip + Duck

“We fell in love with the project, which we will be delivered and ready for release at the end of this year,” says Borde.

Beyond the pre-school demographic and in a fresh Annecy announcement, Mediawan Kids & Family has also signed an international distribution mandate for Frog and Duck, a slapstick comedy created by Sam Shaw for seven to 12 year-olds, from production company Sun & Moon and developed under the BBC’s Ignite program.

Borde notes, however, that Mediawan Kids & Family companies are not pigeon-holed into making one type of animation, or serving a particular demographic.

Submarine continues to make animation aimed at the adult demographic and is also present in Annecy in this year with Mascha Halberstad’s Fox And Hare Save The Forest, which screens in the Annecy Presents section having made its international premiere at the Berlinale.

Borde says Mediawan Kids & Family aims is to produce content for all platforms and all ages.

“We’re one of the few European companies working with all the big broadcasters in France, Germany, the UK and Italy as well as with the international kids’ networks at Paramount, Disney and Warner,” he says.

“One of the challenges of the sector is that animation takes a long time to produce but the tastes and trends, especially for children, can change very rapidly… for this reason we work very closely with our partners from the outset to ensure we’re making content that correspondents to their editorial line at the same time as meeting the tastes of viewers.”

Tapping into the zeitgeist, the division recently started looking into to digital space for inspiration.

Method Animation, in partnership with Drawsome Studio, is in production on the children’s series Ki & Hi, adapted from a best-selling manga by popular YouTuber Kevin Tran, who has 5.4 million subscribers and 1.2 billion views on the platform.

Somewhere Animation, in partnership with Snacking Media, is developing Chefclub Adventures, inspired by the online site Chefclub, which racks up 2.5 billion views each month worldwide.

Other shows in development include Method Animation’s Witch Detectives in coproduction with Toonz for TF1 & Super RTL; Sponge Bob-style show Tuff Pom about two Pomeranian dog brothers from Wildseed Studios and Method Animation with France Télévisions on board as a partner, and Boule & Bill, a contemporary reboot of the French children’s classic mixing animation and live action from Elliott Studio.

Borde also points to the division’s projects with confirmed talents such as Mister Crocodile, produced by Sfar (The Little Vampire, The Rabbi’s Cat) under the banner of his Magical Society; fantasy adventure Artefacts, directed by Stéphane Berry (Totally Spies, Martin Mystery) and Tales of The Miruu, from producer-writer Laurent Zeitoun (Ballerina, Untouchable), a co-production between his company Good Hero and Method Animation.

On the feature film front, the division has half a dozen projects on the boil including The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol by Sylvain Chomet, Meow-woof by Louis Clichy, Twisted by Lino DiSalvo, Jonas, The Mechanical Shark by Alexandre Heboyan, Smell by Olivier Staphylas and Spike by Julia Louw.

“Cinema is an important vertical for us. We asked Emmanuel Jacomet, who was a producer on the Miraculous film, to develop a new slate of animation films. We have two films in pre-financing, one of which – Twisted – we will be presenting at Cartoon Forum,” explains Borde.

“We want to work with original ideas but we’re also open to partnerships with other producers and good ideas talents can bring us. Cinema is important for us because it has this capacity to create an event and we see it as an added resource when it comes to creating franchises and IP with franchise potential. It’s an additional place, alongside TV and digital, where we can incubate new universes.”

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