Zag Comes to America
Zagtoon brings Ladybug to Licensing Expo ahead of the opening of its new Glendale studios and big plans for the United States. By Tom McLean.
Sometimes, there is just no substitute for being right where the action is. And that’s the reason ZAG is planning to make a big splash in the United States with the market debut of its full CGI animated series Ladybug and the opening of its new TV & feature film studios in Glendale.
“To successfully establish global franchises, you also need that U.S. spirit inside the project,” says Jeremy Zag, the Parisian founder of Zagtoon, a division of ZAG Entertainment.
A prolific animation producer well-known in Europe, ZAG is building a 40,000-square-foot studio in Glendale, just down the street from DreamWorks Animation, the Disney creative campus and Nickelodeon that will house production activities, executive offices and creative talent. (It also will include an authentic French bistro that will be open to the public) Now under construction, the goal is for the studio campus to be open and fully functional later this summer.
“The new studio is expected to launch with three new franchises with U.S. broadcasters and master toy partners on board, using both U.S. and French talent,” Zag says. “We need to have a presence in the U.S. to make that happen.”
As part of its introduction to the United States, ZAG is for the first time bringing one of its properties to an American trade show with the arrival of Ladybug at this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.
In production with a green light for 26 halfhour episodes, Ladybug tells the tale of Parisian junior high-school student Marinette, who is a somewhat shy student by day and a superhero by night. She teams up to save the city from evil with another superhero named Chat Noir, who is secretly by day her classmate Adrien. Neither knows the other’s secret identity — nor that they secretly have a crush on each other.
The CGI-animated series was the No. 1 selection at the 2013 MIPCOM Jr. Worldwide Screening and has since achieved global distribution in more than 120 markets, as well as partnerships with Disney, TF1, SamG, SK, Toei Animation, Method, Bandai, PGS and AB GROUP.
Talks with broadcasters are underway to bring the series to air in the United States, with future plans for the franchise, including a significant licensing program and potential full-length feature film.
Additional animated properties in ZAG’s pipeline include Ghost Force, an action-comedy about teenage ghost hunters expected to go into production this year, and a music property called Superstar that is in development. Ghost Force is one of several brands ZAG is developing with Man of Action Studios, creators of Ben 10.
“We are very happy to make productions with teams of international talent based in Europe, Asia and North America,” says Zag.
He founded Zagtoon, a TV division of Zag Entertainment, in 2009 with Jacqueline Tordjman and began developing properties throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. ZAG currently has offices in Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Brussels and Los Angeles.