Corus Ent. and Singapore Technologies Ltd. (ST Electronics) have joined forces to co-produce a series of animated direct-to-video titles. Signed Tuesday during a press conference at MIPTV in Cannes, the deal will first yield movies based on the classic Puff the Magic Dragon property and the popular Franklin the Turtle series. Animation duties will be divided between ST Electronics’ digital media unit and Corus’ Nelvana Studios.
The Puff the Magic Dragon DVD movie is based on the hit folk song written by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton. The production will explore the relationship between Puff and Jackie Paper in the whimsical world of Honahlee. Scott Dyer, exec VP and general manager of Corus Kids tells us they’re working with Yarrow to develop the latest incarnation of the property, which was previously animated in a pair of TV specials that aired on CBS in 1978 and 1980.
Based on the best-selling books by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, and the subsequent Nelvana television series airing on Noggin in the U.S., The new Franklin the Turtle DVD movie will continue the adventures of the little reptile with a lot of determination.
‘I can’t emphasize enough the importance I place on the creation of an industry as opposed to the funding of a production,’ Dyer says of his partnership with his ‘old friends’ in Singapore, a nation making that is quickly becoming a important hub of digital content creation. Dr. Christopher Chia, CEO of the Media Development Authority of Singapore, projects that 18 months from now Singapore will see as much as $100,000,000 coming in from projects based in North America. Lucas Animation is currently in production on the CG-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series at its studios in Singapore, and other major companies, including video game leader Electronic Arts, have established studios on the island.
The world of animation is nothing new to ST Electronics, which has been in the business of creating 3D simulation and training systems for defense and commercial applications. The company recently moved into the entertainment sphere recently when it teamed with Nelvana to co-produce the 26-episode, half-hour CG series The Future is Wild. Based on a 2002 CG-animated Discovery Channel documentary, the show about kids who visit evolved creatures of the future will debut on Discovery Kids in the U.S. and TELETOON in Canada later this year.
‘Our move into the digital animation business was a natural progression for the company from our core base of computer-generated imagery for our simulation business,’ comments Seah Moon Ming, president of ST Electronics. ‘We have been fortunate to establish a strong partnership with an international player like Nelvana. This will allow us to escalate our new efforts to a global level.’
ST Electronics will distribute the Puff and Franklin DVDs, along with future projects with Corus, in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Nelvana Enterprises will handle distribution in the rest of the world.