Peter, we’ve seen a little of 100% Wolf by now, but for those unfamiliar with the project, give us the elevator pitch.
We will be presenting a completely new brand at BLE this year, 100% Wolf. The TV series currently in production by Flying Bark Productions, Australia will launch for international TV sales at Mipcom 2019. The target group is kids from six to 10, and feature film is also in production and completion is set for the end of this year.
100% Wolf – Legend of the Moonstone is about Freddy Lupin. He is the heir to a proud family line of werewolves and he’s in shock when on his 13th birthday his first “warfing” goes awry, turning him into a ferocious… poodle. Enrolled in the mysterious Howlington Academy, Freddy is going to try to prove that despite his appearance, he still has the heart of a werewolf!
What makes the series and the brand special is that 100% Wolf is a hilarious and dramatic concept about a boy trying to find his way in a difficult world - one in which he is an outsider. He is a pink poodle in a world of werewolves and with this brings not only the recognisable challenge of being a ‘fish out of water’, but in addition, he is the future pack leader and expected to be the very best of his kind, no matter his outward form.
The Maya the Bee movies have been phenomenal cinema successes for you. In what ways is 100% Wolf similar to those films, or are you looking to reach a different audience this time around?
We sold our first two Maya movies to more than 170 countries worldwide and we already have presales for Maya the Bee 3 – The Golden Orb (planned for 20/21) for example to the USA, France and Poland.
For all our brands we create high-quality children's and family entertainment with a great affinity to target groups. We associate this with certain values and with very high standards – and this is what Maya the Bee and 100% Wolf have in common. Our foundation is to build brand franchises – to create unique brand experiences throughout all of our business departments.
But while Maya is a pre-school brand, especially with regards to the TV series, 100% Wolf does have an older target group. It is a comedy adventure concept and has a lot of laugh-out-loud humor – not leaving out the difficulties our hero Freddy has, being an outsider and a poodle in a world full of werewolves.
Monster movies are popular with kids and really on-trend right now. But 100% Wolf subverts that through the difference between the central character and what’s expected of him. What opportunities does this open up for licensees and commercial partners?
All monster movies for children have something in common, and that is humor; there is always a way to embrace and offer comic relief. Freddy being a pink poodle in a world of werewolves offers a huge variety of hilarious moments. I don’t know many characters as unique as a pink poodle in a world of werewolves. And, as far as I know, there are no similar shows for kids with werewolves around at the moment – this offers a lot of potential and possibilities for our licensees.
To put it in a nutshell: 100% Wolf as a movie and series is a unique action-adventure buddy/best friend comedy, serving the trending topic of mythical creatures in a gender-neutral way with a very distinctive main character and a strong message with high social relevance: heroes come in many forms!
How is the licensing programme shaping up currently – who is on-board, what categories/opportunities are you still seeking the right partner for?
With ABC, Australia and Super RTL, Germany, we do have two very strong commissioning broadcasters on board for 100% Wolf. So, for example in Germany, we already have strong partners with regards to the content-based categories like publishing or audio dramas – we have Ravensburger Verlag, Blue Ocean Entertainment and Sony Music.
For worldwide licensing we are now on the starting blocks as our international distribution team brings the TV series as a highlight to Mipcom and Mip Junior next week. With strong TV partners we will start the international licensing approach.
On the other hand you have Mia and Me, a property you’ve been cultivating for some years now, and you’ve been making strides beyond your core territories, particularly in China. What're the latest developments in the Far East?
Mia and me is an extraordinary success story and with a fourth season and a movie in the pipeline, we are very happy to add and write another chapter to its achievement. We are delighted with the successful collaboration with leading Chinese kids and family entertainment media company UYoung and their ongoing efforts bringing Mia and Me to CCTV and a broader Chinese audience.
After the outstanding ratings on CCTV this July, China’s state-owned TV channel rebroadcasted Mia and Me from August 29th to September 21st (at the end of the summer holidays). The series has once again made it to the top of the ratings. All three seasons were aired on CCTV in September. Following that, CCTV will start the third round of airing of ‘Mia and me’ within the next two months.
UYoung has licensed Mia and me (78 x 22’) to CCTV, for its children’s channel CCTV-14, which reaches over one billion viewers. UYoung is planning a slate of licensing products offering potential licensees a special Mia and me fashion style guide, for example. There are already promising negotiations with different companies for various categories.
Heidi is another success story that’s continuing with a second season. Teaming with Playmobil on this brand is a real statement of international intent – perhaps the biggest toy push for any of your brands. What are your expectations for the 2020 launch?
What makes the partnering of Heidi and Playmobil so special is the extraordinary brand fit. Playmobil and Heidi are already cult brands in their own right. The combination of these classics will delight kids and grown-up fans around the globe. That is what makes all of our classic brands so valuable – we can continue to keep them alive for a very long time by creating new content and stories around them now and for the future.
We are looking forward to this co-operation with Playmobil because it complements the diverse product range of the Heidi brand optimally – we have a lot of longstanding blue-chip partners for Heidi and another great partnership is set to come on board which we will announce shortly.
Can we expect these sorts of major toy deals for your brands going forward?
We are keeping our brands alive by creating new content such as TV series with various seasons and movies, but of course, what we always consider and have in mind is the long runs not the creation of short-term peaks. We are building brand franchises that give us the chance to create long-term partnerships and co-operations. So of course, there will be more to come.
Finally, with Studio 100 and M4E now fully integrated after the merger, what’s your outlook for the coming year?
Yes, the integration of m4e into Studio 100 Media is now complete. It was always part of the group’s business and content orientation to create great entertainment and strong brands for children. Studio 100 will continue to invest significantly in original independent animated movies, series and brand activities, as well as the diversification of its technical and animation services.
The appointment of Martin Krieger leading the global commercial business of Studio 100 International followed the announcement of Barbara Stephen as Content CEO for Studio 100 International and is part of our plan to push forward with our global expansion strategy.