Cookie Jar move offers inspiration

Company picked up 'Shortcake,' 'Care Bears'

TORONTO -- Canadian cartoon producers who watched this week as Cookie Jar Entertainment picked up DIC and American Greetings' "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Care Bears" properties are seeing their own opportunities to challenge Pixar, Warner Bros., DreamWorks and other Hollywood giants.

"We've had to hone our creative skills and business skills to rise as a country that's only 10% of the size of the dinosaur next door to compete against the big entertainment conglomerates to the south," said Kevin Gillis, managing partner of Breakthrough Animation.

Scott Dyer, chief technology officer at Corus Entertainment, which operates rival cartoon factory Nelvana, said that firm backing at home has enabled Canadian producers to partner with the world on animated co-productions and co-ventures.

"We have the technology, we have a very aware government that has provided great support in terms of tax credits and a broadcaster system that gives licenses to kids animated shows because of a broadcaster obligation to create homegrown shows," Dyer said.

The result is a Canadian animation industry that is aiming to continue its penetration of the international market.

"Every project that we develop, we're always thinking about it from a global perspective, and how it will sell worldwide and how we will get higher license fees," said Arnie Zipursky, co-chairman and CEO of CCI Entertainment.