UK-based Platinum Films has taken a targeted approach to making kids series; rather than developing a large number of properties in the hope that one sticks, it focuses its energies on a small number and attempts to build a fully-fledged franchise. Having made 65x10mins Dream Street and 104x20mins Planet Cook, it is now focused on Matt Hatter Chronicles.
“We don’t make a huge number of shows and we don’t do work-for-hire,” explains Platinum’s CEO and creative director Nigel Stone. “We don’t have a big development slate; we work strategically to see what broadcasters need.”
The idea with Matt Hatter was, he says, to have a series with a sense of adventure rather than just a shoot ‘em-up action show. It is, the producers say, a story-driven action-comedy.
“There’s not much appointment viewing for kids now and we pride ourselves on each episode of Matt Hatter being almost a mini-movie,” Stone says.
In the UK the show is on CiTV and pay TV channel Nicktoons, where it has proved popular. The animated series, which cost about US$12 million for the first two seasons, follows the adventures of 13 year-old Matt. He discovers that his family defends a gateway to a different dimension called the Multiverse. In a quest to protect the Multiverse, Matt and his friends Roxie and Gomez, have to defeat and movie-inspired villains.
The show is produced by Platinum Films and Toronto’s Dream Mill. It is animated by Arc Productions, the Canadian studio behind Gnomeo & Juliet and Tim Burton’s 9. Visually, the show uses a technique dubbed Multivision, a 3D effect that is achieved without the need for glasses. It is unashamedly boy-skewed. Stone says: “Many people fail because they want to be all things to all people. Our show is unashamedly a boys’ action comedy. At its core it is about friendship. It is the Harry Potter model.”
Attempting to encapsulate some of the elements that made Harry Potter such a huge success was always part of the plan. “When we were developing Matt Hatter that franchise was coming to an end and we thought there was a hole in the TV market for something using that model.”
Endemol was handling distribution, but Platinum has taken the rights back and is now running international sales itself. To that end it hired Natalie Llewellyn as head of international programming last year. She joined from Everything’s Rosie producer V&S Entertainment and is charged with driving sales of Matt Hatter around the world.
Having already been sold to Canada’s Teletoon, Nickelodeon in Australia and New Zealand, Network Ten Australia, TVNZ New Zealand, RTE in Ireland, SABC in South Africa and JCC in the Middle East Region, the show has just been sold into Iberia. RTVE’s Clan TV and Iberian pay TV channel Canal Panda have both acquired the animated series. The 26x30mins series will debut on Panda’s channels this spring and on Clan later in the year.
Biplano has been signed to manage L&M and promotional rights for the property in Spain and Portugal.
Other licensing deals include an agreement with Topps, Penguin for publishing and Titan for comics. The licensing and merchandising effort will kick in this year. In Latin America, Platinum has signed with Exim for licensing in Latin America and Stone is heading to NATPE to push the kids show into the region.
Meanwhile, Platinum is also in full development with a new season and will talk to commissioning broadcasters about a possible third series early this year.
The show: Matt Hatter Chronicles
The producers: Platinum Films, Dream Mill, Arc Productions
The distributor: Platinum Films
The broadcasters: CiTV, Nicktoon (UK)
Concept: Action comedy about Matt Hatter and his quest to protect the Multiverse