MIPCOM 2005 Q&A

What do you think is HOT and what’s NOT right now?

This week, TV executives, animation producers and buyers are attending the MIPCOM-Jr and MIPCOM markets in Cannes, France (www.mipcom.com). We thought it would be a good idea to talk to some of these movers and shakers and have them discuss the current TV animation scene, trends and the global toon climate in 2005. Here’s how some of them responded to today’s big question:

TV buyers come to MIPCOM to discover the hottest new properties and trends. What do you think is HOT and what’s NOT right now?

CG continues to be hot, but I am not sure about photo-real CG for television. Everything I have seen with realistic human characters just doesn’t work for me. If you have the budget that Pixar has then you can make it work, but even then, you still need to stylize the human characters. In addition, gaming will continue to drive and influence entertainment more and more.

-Alan Gregg, director of development, children’s TV, Alliance Atlantis

HOT: intelligent cross-media solutions.

NOT: odd 3D animation without any strong storyline.

-Joris Eckelkamp, managing director, International sales, ohm:tv

Character driven formats, everything that is fun and shows that give children interesting things to learn from or to laugh about are definitely hot. Shows which focus on action only, which are violent or brutal are positively not hot.

-Susanne Schosser, joint managing director, EM.Entertainment GmbH

Action-comedy is hot and Japanese animé seems to have lost some of its excitement, at least from where I am sitting in Paris.

-Leslie Nelson, SVP, international sales & managing director, European operations, DIC

Any property that serves its demographic well is hot. There’s so much on the market, broadcasters will be looking for the fresh, the new and the exciting across-the-board from pre-school through to adult animation. Personally, I’m a little bored by CG.

-Jennifer Stewart, director of International co-productions, sales and acquisitions, CBC International Sales

Great programming is always hot, regardless of style and theme. It’s pointless to pay too close attention to trends because the best shows are the ones that create trends, not follow them. Eventually the marketplace is filled with clones, and the forward thinkers have moved on to something else.

-Adam Shaheen, president, executive producer, Cuppa Coffee

Biggest Trend: personal customization of the entertainment viewing process (from where a huge chunk of all licensing flows). Mobile TV growth is estimated to go from a $200 million biz to a $27 billion yearly biz by 2010. That growth will be at the expense of the traditional networks and the major movers will be kids/young people. A la carte screening is here and the Personal Medium Revolution is at hand. Plus, Internet viewing (i.e. AOL’s Princess Natasha which became an Internet phenomenon and now is headed for Cartoon Network and major licensing deals.

The pendulum is swinging back toward boys’ action-adventure properties similar to when Power Rangers launched amidst softer, comedy-driven cartoon competition. Retail was hurt these past few years by lack of boys’ toy break-out hits and too many me-too girl’s products. No one is standing in line at 5 a.m. at Toys ’R’ Us to get the blue Power Ranger.

One thing has remained the same for the past 20 years; the Licensing Business is mercurial, despite talks of highly sophisticated promotional/production/distribution strategies and long lead times. It’s a quicksilver world where a monster hit can come from nowhere and then, as Mr. Holmes would say, "The Game is Afoot."

-Peter Keefe, president and CEO, Earthworks Entertainment

There are a lot of Manga and action elements in family entertainment now and vice versa. Comics are being made into features. There is a great mix of styles out there now. It’s a question of the right mix and if the audience is open to that! Now the technological development will make it possible to produce comics with the real legality (characteristics) of a comic. A high post-production level will create new genres. We will get a lot of spice into animation. Entertaining stories which have a right mix of styles, which are cool, touch your soul and create a new look will be HOT. For preschool, lovely and responsible fun stories which simply make them smile are HOT. Edutainment just seems to get a little niche.

-Artur Kubiczek, managing director, Fish Blowing Bubbles

After a few years of girl’s action being HOT, that has cooled off and boy’s action is back.

-Gregory B Payne, chairman, Foothill Entertainment

HOT: Tween and teen are still sizzling. This demo is not only a powerful consumer group, it also represents a generation of kids who are smart, confident and incredibly media literate.

-Tom McGillis, writer-producer and co-founder, Fresh Animation Ltd

Anything that has a good story, great characters and captures kids imaginations is hot and everything else is not!

-Andrew Berman, executive VP, sales, IDT Entertainment

HOT — British 2D pre-school animation series with strong design styles currently dominating US children’s TV.

NOT — lame, sub-Manga rip-offs with no discernable story.

-Camilla Deakin, co-founder, Lupus Films

Gender-neutral comedy series are definitely HOT right now. Sci-fi action is NOT. But all that can change with one hit show.

-Rick Mischel, CEO, Mainframe Entertainment

HOT: Podcasts, Teen Blogs, comedies, SMS, Alien Invasions! NOT: Girl bands, Pure Action Shows, Magic, Landlines!

-David Michel, VP of Marathon Animation

HOT: New digital technologies that can achieve all kinds of animation styles.

-Donna Friedman Meir, president, programming and production, National Geographic Television & Film

What seems hot to me right now is making shows anime-like, as well as remakes using younger versions of classic characters. What’s not hot is apparently anything to do with aliens.

-Rupinder Malhotra, executive producer, R.M. Productions

The biggest new trend in the business of TV production in our segment of animation and gaming is co-production with the giants from the U.S., a renaissance in 2D animation and direct-to-home video taking a quantum lead over TV series in recent times in the U.S., Canada and Japan. Now the fever is on Europe and Asia as well.

-Tapaas Chakravarti, CEO, DQ Entertainment