Gedeon Programmes now has an edge on competitors, when it comes to animation. Paris-based cartoon house Millimages recently purchased a 50.1% stake in the Saint Ouen-based doc prodco – which specializes in adventure, discovery and science-based programs – in exchange for US$1.19 million in cash, plus stock. Although Millimages holds a majority share, general manager Serge Lafont says his company has no intention of dictating Gedeon’s project decisions. ‘The good thing about us being in cartoons and Gedeon being in documentaries is that they can keep their freedom, which is important for us.’
Stéphane Millière, president of Gedeon, retains his title and gains a position on Millimages’ board. In turn, Lafont and/or Millimages chairman Roch Lener will have a place on Gedeon’s board.
While Millimages plans to keep out of Gedeon’s day-to-day operations, Lafont says one of the incentives to invest in the doc prodco was the possibility of collaborations. He explains: ‘Stéphane uses more and more animation in his documentaries – mostly 3D – and we ourselves are going to do more 3D in the future, because that’s the way cartoons are moving. And, we believe there’s a place for educational properties that mix…documentaries and cartoons.’
Millimages will likely assist Gedeon with other aspects of the business as well. The animation house has experience in developing ancillary products such as books and CD-roms, and produces web animation in Flash via its affiliate company Millimages Online. In addition, Millimages recently set up worldwide distribution offices in London and Los Angeles.
At the moment, Gedeon has distribution commitments with other sources, including Paris-based Terra Noa in which it is a joint owner. However, Lafont expects Millimages to become more involved with licensing Gedeon’s catalog over time. ‘We’re going to work on establishing a network between Terra Noa and our guys,’ he says.
Gedeon spokesperson Laurence Corre confirms that Gedeon, which maintains a permanent staff of 14 and a part-time/intermittent contingent of around 70, will relocate to Paris in about six months to be closer to Millimages. Gedeon currently has 70 hours in production for 2002 and 2003.