Forging a New European Toon Powerhouse

Hans Ulrich Stoef
Hans Ulrich Stoef

Hans Ulrich Stoef, CEO of Studio 100 Media and m4e AG, discusses the recently merged companies’ priorities and market strategies for MIPCOM and 2018.

Animag: Can you tell us what the company’s priorities are in terms of animation for the rest of 2017 and 2018?

Stoef: Since Studio 100 Group acquired the majority interest in m4e AG at the beginning of this year, both companies bundled their marketing and distribution activities in order to combine their strengths. We are now working hand in hand, offering a combined library of more than 17,500 episodes of high-quality kids’ and family entertainment programs.

For MIPCOM we are bringing together our key properties (though presenting them at two stands: Studio 100 Media at R7.C15, m4e at R7.H3) with a strong portfolio. To name just a few: Maya the Bee, Mia and Me, Wissper and The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill, and of course the new series Arthur and the Minimoys, now with a full episode at MIP Junior and at our stands.

End of this year, the second season of our preschool CGI series Tip the Mouse, which is based on the best-selling children’s books, will be completed and available for broadcasters. 2018 will see the theatrical releases of a new feature film from our studios: Maya the Bee – The Honey Games. You see that our priorities clearly are in continuing to deliver high-quality content for kids and family entertainment, for 2018 and, of course, beyond.

How does the merger of the two companies impact the animation produced?

Both companies already had a broad slate of promising new productions and developments in place. We have now put all projects in a five-year plan to guarantee a constant output of new programs, extensions of existing and already proven successful shows like Mia and Me (season 4), Tip the Mouse (season 2) or Wissper (season 2), as well as bringing a variety of new films and [films based on] existing brands to the big screen. The merger enables us to create a solid financial base to realize our projects and for future plans through the strong financial resources of Studio 100 Group and m4e. All our broadcast, digital and L&M partners know that we will deliver. With this in mind, we are sure that we will succeed in establishing the leading independent company and become one of the leaders worldwide.

What animated properties are you most excited about for 2018 and why?

First of all, about our own properties. We are looking forward to releasing the second feature film of Maya the Bee in spring 2018, called Maya the Bee – The Honey Games, bringing back the beloved characters from the first movie and the series to the big screen. We are also launching a strong L&M campaign and vast variety of new products. And…Arthur and the Minimoys, the wonderful show from visionary creator Luc Besson, which targets a broader audience and delivers a fantastic adventure-filled story with great characters.

What is your overall take on the state of animation business in Europe this year?

Generally, it is still of importance to build and establish brands with long life cycles rather than to do one-shots. We see that broadcasters have the tendency to not take creative risks, a bit like the L&M retailers, and prefer to do remakes or pre-promoted characters — which is a bit boring and leads to a lack in creativity. That is indeed a shame, but it is also a result of declining ratings in the linear world.

Learn more at www.studio100media.com and www.m4e.de/en.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Maya the Bee

Maya the Bee

Arthur and the Minimoys

Arthur and the Minimoys