Belfast Telegraph

Entertainment firm flying high with deals

By Margaret Canning

Entertainment deals are being cut in Cannes this week at MIPCOM, the annual showcase for the world's entertainment industry.

One deal already reached involves Irish comedian Colm Tobin and production company Kite Entertainment, whose Anglo: The Musical starts its stage run in Dublin next month.

Mr Tobin is also the writer of mixed-media animated series Science Fiction, a science-themed comedy for kids aged eight to 12. It has already been shown on RTE and CBBC and has now been snapped up by Aardman Rights, the publishing arm of the company behind Wallace -amp; Gromit.

Alix Wiseman of Aardman said production company Kite Entertainment had "married up their expertise in comedy writing with relevant and off the wall scientific facts".

It appears to be like a Horrible Histories, but animated, and dealing with science instead of history in a light-hearted way. It involves the exploits of young scientist Dr Sorcha Knowles and inept side-kick Mike McCork.

Darren Smith, Kite Entertainment MD, said: "For a company like Kite to get to work, not only with CBBC (whom we consider to be the HBO of kids TV) but also Aardman, feels like a real endorsement of the quality writing and animation that Colm Tobin and his team pour into the making of Science Fiction."

The acquisition of Science Fiction will be a minor dent in the revenues of Aardman, which grew from £53.5m in 2010 to £66.8m last year, according to its latest accounts.

Aardman also said its pre-school programmes had been given a favourable reception and "continued to recoup quicker than expected".

But revenues from the EU were down from £4m to £1.8m - which will prompt hopes that new acquisitions like Science Fiction, will be well-received by the European audience.

America is the company's biggest market, thanks to a deal to make films with Sony Pictures. In the US, revenues rose £3m to £41.1m in 2011.

Last year's Arthur Christmas grossed $150m at the box office, a substantial return on a $100m budget. This year's Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! recouped $120m - more than twice its budget of $55m.

With such a track record, Kite's hopes for the future of its series will be soaring.