Muriel Thomas, director of International Distribution at Magic Light Pictures
Magic Light Pictures' productions are airing and streaming in over 50 different languages and across over 180 countries. Muriel Thomas, director of International Distribution, explains why Magic Light Pictures' content is so appealing around the world.
Magic Light Pictures is a complete company that works across production, licensing, finance, distribution and marketing. Can you talk me through how the different areas work together?
"Across all our areas, Magic Light Pictures shares share a common aim. We want to enrich the imaginations of children and families worldwide by producing content experiences, brand products and activities of the highest quality which will be cherished for years to come. Everything we do or create needs to be something we can be proud of which delivers on our values. It’s a strategy which has paid off and gained us acclaim, most notably for our captivating animated half-hour specials which have won a multitude of awards, including three International Emmys and two BAFTAs. We’ve also been nominated for four Oscars, three for our specials and one for our animated feature film 'Chico and Rita'. In addition, over the past dozen years we’ve been working with carefully chosen partners all over the world to connect our shows with the widest audience locally and globally through television, home entertainment, streaming platforms, cinemas and festivals. Our productions are airing and streaming in over 50 different languages and across over 180 countries. Meanwhile, we’ve built the wonderful 'Gruffalo' into a hugely admired brand with cross-category consumer products programme is an evergreen staple across the full retail spectrum in the UK and our dedicated distribution and licensing and merchandising team is constantly finding new licensees and international partners to broaden its reach, always meticulous about the quality and design of every product made."
What are the Magic Light Pictures highlight productions? What are you promoting nowadays?
"Our latest highlights are 'Pip and Posy', our first-ever preschool series, plus our new 2021 half-hour special, 'Superworm'. 'Pip and Posy' is a delightful animation about two best friends whose lives revolve around a wonderful world of play. It premiered in the UK earlier in the year on Channel 5 and Sky and is consistently a top performing series. International rollout has already started in Israel (Hop!), Australia (ABC), Netherlands (VPRO) and Germany (ZDF/KIKA) and more including France, Italy, Scnadinavia and Canada launching next year. We’ve also secured the first licensing partners, launching next year. 'Superworm' is another thrilling Donaldson/Scheffler story, in which a hero with a difference and a wonderfully entertaining villain clash to hilarious and exciting effect. It premieres on BBC One on Christmas Day and will be rolled out internationally in 2022. We’ve built up a beautiful collection of our half-hour specials over the years and international buyers continue to ask for these. We have a strong development pipeline too, covering series, specials and family dramas. We’re always looking to the literary world for distinctive stories and characters to give the Magic Light treatment and bring vividly to life with animation."
Do you believe that the pandemic has generated new trends in the distribution arena?
"There were no specific new trends, but quality content was in high demand and especially animation has done very well during the pandemic. Everyone could continue working, and there were a lot of catalogue sales to fill the gap in the schedules left by live action. And as everyone was at home, we all consumed a lot more content and our content is perfect for co-viewing as families were together. Now things are returning it is levelling out, but I believe that there is a greater awareness of the resourcefulness and capability of animation as a robust industry."
What are your goals for the next year?
"Following the successful launch of 'Pip and Posy' in the UK, we’re now looking to roll it out internationally. We already have several key territories on board and more on the horizon. It’s crucial that the local language for the show is exactly right to retain the charm and beauty of the original series. We also continue to secure strong sales for 'Superworm' following the footpath of our previous TV Specials and adding a new title with a new hero character – again, we’ve already had a lot of interest in the show. We hope to announce some commissions for our shows that are in development. More generally, we’re aiming to continue growing our global footprint. The increase in demand during the pandemic opened up new markets for us and we were able to sell to new international licensees, so we want to continue to build upon that, and continue to work closely with all our partners in each territory to constantly connect our shows with new and wide audience."
By Romina Rodríguez
We’re always looking to the literary world for distinctive stories and characters to give the Magic Light treatment and bring vividly to life with animation” Muriel Thomas director of International Distribution at Magic Light Pictures