'The Little Prince' returns in TV form

A 52-episode series planned on popular children's book

PARIS -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince" will make a royal return to the world of entertainment with a new 18.6 million euro ($25.3 million) TV series from Method Animation, Method said at a press conference at their studios in Paris on Wednesday.

Method has partnered with France Televisions, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, la Fabrique d'Images, DQ Entertainment, WDR, Rai Fiction, TSR, the book's French publishing house Gallimard Jeunesse and the Saint Exupery-d'Agay estate to create a 26-minute, 52-episode TV series based on the popular children's book.

After over three years of development, Method and their partners have produced 26 hours of programming based on the work of more than 450 people and 18,200 pages of storyboards.

The series is in full CGI and stereoscopic 3D. Directed by Pierre Alain Chartier, "The Little Prince" was developed for TV by Alexandre de la Patelliere and Matthieu Delaporte.

"Saint-Exupery's universe is incredibly open – It's not a sequel, but instead an extension, a new voyage," De la Patelliere explained.

The first 52-minute special episode of the new series will premiere on France 3 at Christmastime in France, followed by three episodes through the summer of 2011 before the series launches in 3D on the network in September of 2011. France Televisions invested 4 million euros into the production.

"The Little Prince" will feature the young hero as he hops from planet to planet and meets interesting characters along the way.

PGS Entertainment will handle international sales for the TV series in Cannes.

The 24-planet series has already signed distribution deals across the globe including Germany's WDR, Italy's Rai, TV2 in Denmark, and Norway, Finland's MTV3, ABC Australia, TSR in Switzerland, RTV Slovenia. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will handle worldwide video rights excluding North America.

PGS is hoping to close a sale with a major US network during MIPCOM where the first episode will be screen for market attendees on closing night.

"We hope to have as many international partners as there are translations of the book," Method Animation's President Aton Soumache said in an interview.

"The Little Prince" book has been translated into 220 languages and has sold more than 134 million copies since it was published in 1943.

"The Little Prince" will also hop from planet TV to a multi-platform galaxy including DVD, books, online and musical formats. Popular French musician Yannick Noah will sing the series' theme song, Robert and Jean-Jacques Goldman will sign the score and producers have lined up an all-star cast of top Gallic talent for the voices including Marie Gillain as the Rose and Guillaume Gallienne as the snake.

So will the series be a worldwide success story? As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in the original version of "The Little Prince": "Only children know what they are looking for."