Weinstein Co., Telepool ink 'Niko' deal


COLOGNE, Germany -- The Weinstein Co. and German distribution company Telepool have signed a distribution deal for all English-language and Latin American territories for the 3-D animated holiday film "Niko & the Way to the Stars."

The European co-production, directed by Michael Hegner and Kari Juusonen, tells the story of Niko, a little earth-bound reindeer who dreams of flying like his father, one of the elite troop that pulls Santa Claus' sleigh every Christmas. When Niko uncovers a plot by the Big Bad Wolf and his pack to replace Santa's "flying forces," Niko sets off to warn his dad.

"Niko" will have its European premiere in Scandinavia in October before rolling out around the world in time for the holiday season.

"We are very proud to have such an internationally successful film production and distribution group as the Weinstein Co. as a partner on 'Niko & the Way to the Stars,' " said Irina Ignatiew, executive vp international at Telepool. "This extraordinary animated film is a modern-day fairy tale for the whole family."

For TWC, "Niko" fits nicely into the 3-D niche the company has established with theatrical releases like "Hoodwinked!" and direct-to-DVD titles including the "Unstable Fables" franchise.

"Niko" has already sold to more than 100 territories, with Nordisk handling distribution in Scandinavia, Universum releasing the picture in Germany and Filmax distributing in Spain.

The Telepool-TWC agreement was negotiated by TWC's Barry Gordon, executive vp home entertainment, and Laine Kline, senior vp business and legal affairs; and Kilian Steiner, head of business and legal affairs, on behalf of Telepool.