Russia's 'Masha and the Bear' Franchise Finds China Distribution Deal

Russian animated series Masha and the Bear - H 2015
Courtesy of Animaccord

Under the agreement with Shanghai Media Group, a joint venture will be created to promote and distribute the animation franchise in the country.

One of Russia's best known international animation franchises, Masha i medved (Masha and the Bear), has struck a distribution deal with China's Shanghai Media Group.

Under the agreement, brokered by the Russian distribution company SPB TV, a joint venture will be created to promote and distribute Masha and the Bear in China.

"The main goal of the agreement will be coordinated efforts for distribution of the animation series Masha and the Bear and comprehensive promotion of the brand on the entire territory on China," SPB TV said in a statement on its web site.

A spokeswoman for Animaccord, the production company for Masha and the Bear, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the deal has been signed.

So far, the series has not had official distribution in China, but episodes of the series have popped up on illegitimate websites and pirated merchandise has been available.

Premiering in 2009 on Russian TV, the children's animated series is currently distributed in many countries of the world. Most recently, deals for India and New Zealand were struck.

In 2015, the producers' revenue from licensing agreements and sales of merchandise related to the franchise accounted for $225 million, with more than half of the total revenue coming from outside Russia.

Before the signing of the deal with Shanghai Media Group, Europe and South America were the main foreign markets for Masha and the Bear.