India's Toonz has claws out


NEW DELHI -- Leading South India-based animation company Toonz Animation India will co-produce the animated series "Wolverine" with London-based First Serve International for the BBC's childrens channel CBeebies.

The show, based on Marvel Comic's "X-Men" character, will be represented internationally by Liberation Entertainment and in the U.S. by Marvel Entertainment.

"The 26 half-hour episode series is produced at a budget of $10 million, with Toonz and First Serve being equal partners via the joint venture company Toonz First Serve," Toonz Animation India MD P Jayakumar said in an interview. "Production for the 2D series began six months ago and will be ready by early 2008."

In a statement, CBeebies co-productions and aquisitions boss Jesse Cleverly said the Wolverine scripts were "amongst the best we have ever read and the show promises to be a highly involving experience for the audience."

Based in Thirunavanthapuram, Toonz is housed in a 25,000 square foot studio employing more than 500 artists. Founded in 1999, Toonz's client list includes such leading international companies as Hallmark, Disney, Cartoon Network and Paramount Home Entertainment, with whom Toonz is co-producing its first feature, the 2D/3D animated film "Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight."

Jayakumar also said that Toonz is co-producing another series with the BBC titled "Freefonix." That 40-episode series is slated to begin production in late 2008.