Marie-Laure Roche Joins Jetpack as Interim Global Head of Sales

Global indie kids’ content distributor Jetpack Distribution has brought on industry expert Marie-Laure Roche as interim global head of sales. She is covering for Gillian Calvert Ridge, who holds the permanent position, while she is on maternity leave. Roche will be based in London, reporting directly to CEO Dominic Gardiner. She officially joins Jetpack on September 1, and will work alongside Ridge and Gardiner in the lead up to MIP Junior and MIPCOM in October.

“I am very excited to join the Jetpack team,” said Roche. “Since its inception I’ve followed the company’s growth path (including it’s ever growing catalogue) with keen interest. It’s a great opportunity!”

Gardiner commented, “Marie-Laure will be a great asset. She has some brilliant experience and contacts and I’m greatly looking forward to working with her as we head towards Cannes this Autumn.”

Roche has held several key roles within the children’s television industry, including managing the content distribution of entertainment properties at Mattel (including Thomas and Friends and Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures) and various roles managing sales across the globe over a five-year stint at Cake Entertainment. This included finding homes for properties such as Angry Birds, Total Drama and Angelo Rules.

Animation Magazine

Spin Master Named Global Master Toy Partner for ‘Gabby’s Dollhouse’

Leading, global children’s entertainment company Spin Master has reached an agreement with Universal Brand Development to become the global master toy licensee for DreamWorks Animation’s all-new preschool series, Gabby’s Dollhouse. With an anticipated 2021 launch, Spin Master will bring the characters from the show to life through a toy line that will include playsets, figures, plush, games and puzzles.

Gabby’s Dollhouse will debut globally on Netflix in 2020.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Universal Brand Development on this exciting new TV series that is sure to capture the imaginations of preschoolers,” said Ben Gadbois, Spin Master’s Global President and COO. “Spin Master has had a long, successful partnership with Universal Brand Development, and we are looking forward to bringing our renowned innovation to the toy line for Gabby’s Dollhouse. This partnership further strengthens our preschool portfolio of both owned and licensed IP, leveraging our expertise and scale in the category.”

Created and executive produced by Traci Paige Johnson (Blue’s Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and Jennifer Twomey (Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi), Gabby’s Dollhouse is a mixed-media series that unboxes a surprise before jumping into a fantastical animated world full of adorable cat characters that live inside Gabby’s dollhouse, where any adventure can unfold.

“Gabby’s Dollhouse is the ultimate dollhouse experience come to life,” said Joe Lawandus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Toys and Hardlines, Universal Brand Development. “The series is a fresh and modern take on traditional dollhouse play, and we look forward to collaborating with Spin Master to design toys that will inspire creativity and create endless opportunities for imaginative play and storytelling.”

Animation Magazine

Netflix Dates Global Invasion of Nick’s ‘Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus’

The highly anticipated new TV movie event Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, from Nickelodeon and creator Jhonen Vasquez, will make its global streaming debut on Netflix on August 16! The original series about a bumbling alien bent on planetary domination premiered on Nick in 2001, sparking a devoted fandom — and getting “The Doom Song” stuck in jillions of puny human heads.

In Enter the Florpus, Zim (voiced again by Richard Horvitz) discovers his almighty leaders never had any intention of coming to Earth, and he loses confidence in himself for the first time in his life. This is the big break his human nemesis, Dib (Andy Berman), has been waiting for!

Returning voice stars also include Rikki Simons (GIR), Melissa Fahn (Gaz), Rodger Bumpass (Professor Membrane), Wally Wingert (Almighty Tallest Red) and Kevin McDonald (Almighty Tallest Purple) and Olivia d’Abo (Tak); along with Eric Bauza, Breehn Burns, Justin Roiland, Fred Tatasciore, Jenny Goldberg, Mo Collins and Michael McDonald.

Jhonen Vazquez wrote, exec produced (with Mary Harrington) and voices the movie. Breehn Burns is supervising producer and story consultant. Joann Estoesta is producer. Jenny Goldberg is art director. Music by Kevin Manthei.

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

Animation Magazine

Watch: Netflix Dates ‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ Global Launch

Following the news that global streaming giant Netflix had snapped up the highly anticipated Nickelodeon movie, fans around the world can now look forward to reconnecting with Joe Murray’s O-Town gang when Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling premieres on the platform August 9. The movie brings back the classic characters of Nickelodeon animated series Rocko’s Modern Life (1993-1996) in an all-new culture shock adventure.

Synopsis: After being in space for around 20 years, Rocko and his friends attempt to conform to an even more modern life in O-Town, where coffee shops are on every corner, food trucks offer multi-layered tacos, touch-screen O-Phones are being upgraded on a near-constant basis, an instant-print kiosk has replaced Rocko’s old job at Kind-of-a-Lot-O-Comics, and radioactive energy drinks turn their consumers into mutants.

Original series voice actors and newcomers make up the energetic cast: Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Linda Wallem, Steve Little, Joe Murray, Cosmo Segurson, Tom Smith, and Dan Becker

The movie is written by series creator Joe murray with Doug Lawrence and Martin Olson; Murray also directs, with Cosmo Segurson, and exec produces. Lizbeth Velasco is producer. Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling is a Nickelodeon production.

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Animation Magazine

Toonz Media Group Announces Imira Leadership Changes in Global Expansion

Toonz Media Group, in line with its global expansion process — and this year celebrating its 20th anniversary — announces a change in leadership at Imira Entertainment. Paul Robinson, who has been Imira’s CEO since December 2017, is resigning his post to take on a key strategic role within the Toonz Media Group; and Carlos Biern has been appointed as Toonz’s new President of Animation Productions & Co-productions.

Robinson will provide strategic advice to the Toonz Media Group and will continue to head the Canal Clan International joint venture with RTVE, Malish TV Russia and other platform initiatives worldwide, as well as strategic alliances for the group. As part of this operational and strategic restructuring, Imira’s operational matters and responsibilities will be taken over directly by Biern and his executive team.

Robinson, an international media exec with vast experience in the global kids and family entertainment industry having held senior exec positions at the BBC, The Walt Disney Company, and NBC Universal, joined Imira as interim CEO to lead the Spain-based rights management and distribution company forward and to build the distributor’s international presence and align the company from a new business perspective. He will continue to work with the Toonz group and different entertainment divisions, reporting directly to Group CEO P. Jayakumar.

Biern, a long-time kids and family exec who is President of the Spanish Federation of Animation & Visual Effects Producers (DIBOOS), has been appointed President of Animation Production and Co-production at Toonz Media Group, overseeing all international productions and co-productions of the group and its companies; and will take on an operational role within Imira from both a management perspective and to build on projects initiated under Robinson’s helm, working alongside P. Jayakumar and the Imira team, as well as Robinson, now in his new role.

“We thank Paul for his service over these past 18 months and are delighted to continue to benefit from his expertise and extensive experience as we expand across all our entertainment divisions, and welcome Carlos who brings with him a valuable knowledge and years of experience in the international as well as the Spanish arena,” commented P. Jayakumar.

Robinson added, “It has been a pleasure to lead a wonderful team of people and to contribute to help make a Spanish distribution company a little more global and worldwide in its reach and aspirations. The global market is changing rapidly, and there is an imperative for us to continue to develop new routes to market and strategically serve our customers better whilst developing new business opportunities.”

“I am delighted to be joining such a vibrant entertainment group and working with both Imira and Toonz experienced teams. I am extremely happy to take this role to build even more our presence by incorporating the best creative talent in kids and family entertainment from all over the world,” Biern said of his appointment.

Animation Magazine

Marie Congé Appointed Ankama Head of Global Distribution

French entertainment indie Ankama — which creates, publishes and distributes games, animation and manga including the popular Dofus and Wakfu properties — has appointed industry veteran Marie Congé as Head of Global Distribution. In this newly created role, Congé will be leading international sales & acquisition strategies, overseeing distribution of the studio’s animated movies and TV series.

Congé has dedicated her career to kids and family programming. She started at MoonScoop, overseeing International Distribution & Consumer Products across all media for iconic properties such as Code Lyoko, SamSam and Geronimo Stilton. She then moved to Cyber Group Studios. leading the International Sales, Acquisitions & New Media team, before joining GO-N International as Head of Sales & Business Development and launching the popular preschool series Simon on the global market.

With a deep knowledge of kids programs and their development, Congé comes to Ankama with solid international distribution credentials to expand their commercial activities for all of their current and future animated productions.

“I have been a long-time fan of Ankama’s high-quality products and its creative and talented team,” said Congé. “I am very proud to join the company and to dedicate my energy to bring the studio’s content to new audiences worldwide.”

Learn more about the studio at

Marie Conge

Marie Conge

Animation Magazine

FMX Brings the Global Digital Media Community Together

The FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Immersive Media has closed out another successful edition in Stuttgart. Haus der Wirtschaft and new venue Hospitalhof were packed with more than 4,000 visitors maxing out the event’s capacity. “We are very happy,” says FMX Conference Chair Prof. Andreas Hykade. “High-caliber speakers and an enthusiastic audience made FMX 2019 an unforgettable event.”

Minister-President of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, was enthusiastic in his opening speech, naming FMX an “international flagship” for the state. “The illusion is the most beautiful of all pleasures,” he quoted Voltaire. The Minister-President described the ability to fill the empty screen with our fantasy through the animated film “an exemplary digital space” as “one of the most important human talents.”

The central theme of FMX 2019, Bridging the Gap, highlighted worldviews and workflows that inspire exchange in the fields of animation, effects, games and immersive media. Bridging the Gap was interpreted in different ways by the FMX 2019 speakers. Dr. Andrew Glassner, artificial intelligence pioneer, held a Crash Course in Deep Learning and expressed a philosophical approach: “We nourish and protect our dreams, from the quiet murmurs of our hearts to the bold plans of our minds. As they evolve, these intimate visions grow beyond ourselves, bridging the gap between our inner passions and our outer engagements with the world.”

Academy Award-winning director Dr. Jan Pinkava, who gave the opening keynote speech, said, “The best thing is to do good work with people that you like. If we can understand each other, learn from each other, respect each other, and disagree happily with each other, we can like each other more and do better work.”

For supervising sound editor Nina Hartstone, who talked about the Oscar-awarded sound editing of Bohemian Rhapsody, Bridging the Gap means “pushing the boundaries of creating sound in film to tell a story in a way that immerses the viewer in another world – transporting our consciousness out of reality and experiencing a different life.”

VR/360° creator, documentary maker and journalist Gayatri Parameswaran presented the VR documentary Home After War. “Bridging the Gap means, to me, using technology for storytelling in a way that we can bring people together,” she said.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker and animation historian Prof. John Canemaker expressed his enthusiasm about FMX 2019: “FMX is a super event — impressive in the quality and breadth of the presentations and hospitality shown! It was of great value to me as a filmmaker and educator.”

More than 280 top-class speakers gave presentations, workshops and masterclasses. Moreover, 33 companies presented their latest products and services at the Marketplace as well as in six Company Suites. At the Recruiting Hub, 28 companies were on the lookout for creative talents, while 19 universities showed their projects on the School Campus. For the first time, over 20 virtual reality experiences and presentations could be experienced live on the School Campus.

FMX 2019 once again proved to be one of the most important events for the community to meet, refresh old contacts and make new acquaintances. This year, the new Get-Together, which took place daily in front of Haus der Wirtschaft, was the perfect place for an exchange of ideas.

The 25th edition of FMX ( will take place from May 5-8, 2020.

Animation Magazine

Hong Kong FILMART: A Must-Attend Event for Global Animation Pros

The 23rd edition of the Hong Kong Intl. Film & TV Market (FILMART)

(March 18-21) wrapped last week, and the general consensus was that it has become a must-attend event for both Asian and Western exhibitors and attendees. With 880 exhibitors from 35 countries, including companies from many Mainland Chinese provinces, this week-long event attracted over 8,700 visitors and offered a great opportunity to meet and mix with Chinese producers, distributors and channels.

This year, the Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Association organized its sixth Animation Support Program, which has grown considerably over these past years.

The quality and innovation (see sidebar) shown in the projects from 40 animation studios is a testament to the efforts of many local mentors and training initiatives provided by this program, including instruction on business and technical skills tailored for animation companies. In addition to the local support for participation at FILMART, the program encourages participation in international competitions and exhibitions for start-ups and small animation enterprises from HK.

This year’s premiere animation-focused panel explored the question, “Will New Chinese-Foreign Alliances Shape the World Animation Industry?” This informative panel was sponsored by the Annecy Intl. Animation Festival and HKTDC. Speakers included Yann Marchet, founder of France’s Print the Legend; Joe Aguilar, CEO of Huayi Brothers’ Wink Animation; Louise Jones, VP of finance and business affairs at Toronto-based Guru Studios; and Zozo Zuo, producer at iQIYI Pictures, the film creation arm of China’s booming online video platform..

The speakers gave a spirited and insightful look at their past and present experiences working in Mainland China and HK. They painted a progressive and optimistic picture of making content with and for the Chinese market. Aguilar stressed that we must choose “who” the content is for, since scripts do not typically work for both western and eastern audiences without revision.

Aguilar pointed out that Wink’s Shanghai studio primarily produces projects aimed at the Chinese audience, while its Burbank studio uses Chinese directors and staffers to give notes on the global films. “It’s harder to please both East and West – you can try to make content that is successful in other markets, but you have to gear it to one side or the other,” said Aguilar. “Trying to be in the middle is just confusing for audiences.”

Among Wink’s high-profile international projects is Extinct, directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), for global markets. “The project originated in the West and was developed with Chinese dollars. Chinese talent was involved in the creation and production, so we hit the co-production qualifiers,” he explained.

iQiyi Pictures producer Zozo Zuo discussed her studio’s new Chinese-French project Spycies, which is directed by Guillaume Ivernel, veteran of the TV series and feature Dragon Hunters. She talked about the process of dubbing and adapting the movie for various markets. “We’ll change it slightly depending on the market and how they understand the story as storytelling styles are different in China and the West,” Zuo noted.

“At this point there are a lot of Chinese directors and writers who are trying to make their shows cross over,” noted Aguilar. “China is much more and futuristic than the West.” He pointed out that “cute” does really well and goes a long way in China as merchandising is very important. Aguilar also brought up the fact that in China, audiences believe that animated movies are just for kids.

Monkey King and White Snake were targeting young adults. If you look at the films that did well in theaters in China, word of mouth can really help attract audiences here,” noted Zuo. “With Spycies, we hope that the box office will be equally divided between Chinese and western markets. We make our movies for the Chinese market and global films for the west, but I don’t expect them to cross over. “

Jones pointed out that Guru’s hit Netflix series True and the Rainbow Kingdom was the studio’s first show for the Chinese market. “Our strategy has always been to create global brands,” she said. “When we were producing the first season, we were looking for a partner who would believe in and create a vision for the show. Our partners in China had the same love for it that we did. They tested the show with the kids in China. What was important for us was to maintain a profit share, so that if the brand becomes a hit, both companies are invested in the success of the show.”

In the 25 years that I have been visiting both China and Hong Kong, I have witnessed the immense growth in the animation and digital entertainment industry in both territories. I am excited as a citizen of the world to have had the opportunity to explore the commonality between our cultures. That bond of basic human desires has helped narrow the gap and transcend so many of the obstacles that previously made delivering successful co-productions and distribution deals seem so daunting. Markets and events such as the HK Filmart are successfully doing their part to make our industry and our world a smaller and more friendly place. As children and adults around the world enjoy the cross-cultural results of east-west co-pros, we can’t help but continue to see the value in getting along on the political playing field as well.

Chinese 2019 Box Office At-A-Glance

Rank Movie Title Gross
1. The Wandering Earth $ 692,560,33
2. Crazy Alien $ 327,598,891
3. Pegasus $ 255,294,677
4. Bumblebee $ 170,846,880
5. Captain Marvel $ 146,160,236
6. Alita: Battle Angel $ 132,607,678
7. More than Blue $ 120,106,278
8. Boonie Bears: Blast Into the Past $ 106,238,486
9. The New King of Comedy $ 92,796,953
10. Green Book $ 68,034,563
11. White Snake $ 66,652,781
12. The Big Shot $ 56,040,681
13. How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World $ 53,706,186
14. Once Upon a Deadpool $ 42,453,208
15. Escape Room $ 33,980,703
16. Fall in Love at First Kiss $ 25,765,510
17. Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang $ 22,687,179
18. Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year $ 18,521,815
19. Natsume’s Book of Friends The Movie: $ 16,904,841
20. Integrity: $ 16,825,965

Source: 4/1/19


Each year, Filmart brings global entertainment professionals to the Hong Kong Convention Center in March.

HGC Ent.’s The Wind Guardians earned $ 17 million in Chinese theaters last year.

Spycies is one of the much-anticipated animated features produced by iQiyi Pictures.

Boonie Bears

Fantawild launches the sixth movie in the Boonie Bears series at AFM 2018.

True and the Rainbow Kingdom

Guru Studios has found new partners in China thanks to its hit series True and the Rainbow Kingdom.

Animation Magazine

Irish Animation Studios Toast Global Growth for St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish people’s long reputed penchant for weaving tales has over the last several years been evolving alongside the rapid development of technology, putting Irish animators in place to grow alongside the demand for unique IP in TV, film, games, mobile and VR/AR. Many of these creatives need no introduction, thanks to frequent recognition by the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and other international accolades.

These efforts are bolstered by a well-coordinated national industry, helping Irish content win fans and accolades around the world. With a strong focus on R&D, innovation, upskilling and new talent development – much of which is supported by Enterprise Ireland – Irish visual entertainment is set to continue enchanting international audiences for decades to come.

Just 10 years ago, there were only 70 Irish people working in animation and related fields. That number has since grown to over 2,000 in full-time employment in the same industries.

“The creativity of Irish companies sets them apart, and storytelling is in everything they do. They’ve come to the North America market with a proven track record, they’re steeped in the arts, and they have the dynamism and ambition to succeed,” said Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland. “The animation industry in Ireland has been a long cornerstone of our vibrant entertainment industry. It has seen significant growth in the last decade, and it’s now an integral part of our digital creative economy.”

Some studios of note include:

Giant Animation (Geist short film; TV’s Go Jetters) is an independent animation studio focused on the development and production of exciting new ideas for television, feature film, games and everything in-between. The company prides itself on strong visual storytelling, using a diverse range of styles to bring their ideas to life.

Piranha Bar (Mya Go, Kellogg’s Coco Puffs “The Chase”) boasts a diverse family of in-house talent including directors, animators, VFX, motion designers, artists and award-winning editors. The unique hybrid production company creates highly visual short and long-form content. Piranha Bar is actively developing original content with production partners around the world.

Gorilla Post is an Emmy-nominated post-production facility in Dublin, Ireland. Managing client’s entire post-production requirements, from edit, grade, VF, audio post and finishing. Founded in 2009, the company has grown rapidly. Managing Director, Barry Reid, was nominated for an Emmy Award for his “Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for an Animated Preschool Program” on Amazon Prime’s Pete The Cat series.

Moetion Films is an award-winning, animation company based in Galway, Ireland. The company develops and produces high-end animation for cinema and TV. Owner/Producer Moe Honan has an excellent record co-producing feature films such as the award-winning Niko and the Way to the Stars (Flight Before Christmas), Niko 2: Little Brother Big Trouble (The Magic Reindeer), Thor – Legends of Valhalla and The Ugly Duckling and Me.

[Source: Enterprise Ireland]

Niko and the Way to the Stars

Niko and the Way to the Stars

Mya Go

Mya Go



Animation Magazine

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