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Nelvana Gets Mobile at Licensing Show With DTV & Horticulture Deals

At Licensing Show, Nelvana has announced its direct-to-DVD plans, mobile initiatives and a new deal with London's Royal Horticultural Society.

As the Nelvana readies its production slate for the next two years, it is working on a comprehensive DTV strategy that will encompass titles based on its library, original and acquired content.

"Home entertainment distributors are hungry for animated content with pre-existing affinity to feed the growing market demand for quality DTVs," said Doug Murphy, evp of business development, Nelvana. "With decades of broadcast market success behind us, we have identified this arena as a key strategic focus for the future."

Hot off the 2005 production slate is CARE BEARS: BIG WISH MOVIE, slated to hit North American shelves in October from Lion's Gate Home Ent. International distribution rights to the feature-length 3D animated adventure are currently being negotiated. CARE BEARS: BIG WISH MOVIE (75 minutes) stars Wish Bear, who learns the meaning of the age-old adage "Be careful what you wish for" the hard way. Feeling sad that her fellow Care Bears don't seem to appreciate her wishes and their unpredictable outcomes, Wish Bear enlists the help of her wish star Twinkers to find some bears who really, really, really love wishing.

Following in fall 2006 will be a direct-to-video special based on Nelvana's popular MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH FRIENDS series, again distributed by Lion's Gate in the U.S. and Nelvana's TELETOON Presents label in Canada. In MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH FRIENDS: THE PRINCE, PRINCESS AND THE BEE, Sunny Patch is a-buzz with royal fever as a new princess hatches from the beehive, drawing dignitaries from all over the bug world. Believing she may be a princess herself, Miss Spider's adopted beetle Shimmer travels to Mushroom Glen for King Rigel and Queen Sapphire's annual ball with her family in tow.

Also headlining the studio's 2006/2007 DTV slate are as yet untitled features based on Nelvana's popular programming library, including BABAR, CARE BEARS and FRANKLIN.

A second DTV strategy moves beyond Nelvana's own brands and into original content based on books, brands, toys and other media. "We're on the lookout for new content to capitalize on the market trending towards direct-to-video," said Peter Maule, Nelvana's vp of home entertainment and retail distribution. "There are only so many television shows that you can bring to DVD, but the market will always bear fresh, original long-form content. If your brand has a backstory worthy of the small or big screen, we'd like to hear from you."

Hot off the MIP-TV and E3 trade show circuit, Nelvana has announced the launch of a strategic mobile content initiative and the first in a series of distribution and representation deals.

"We've targeted mobile content as a promising growth strategy for Nelvana," commented Murphy. "The mobile market is huge, with exponential growth expected in the coming years as G3 networks rollout worldwide for cell phones and mobile devices."

As part of its strategy, Nelvana will source short-form animation clips from its library of programming to offer alongside ringtones and personalization graphics. The company's first two content deals with m-Qube, a leading mobile channel enabler for content providers, and TV for Mobile, cover the Canadian and European markets.

A mobile store, powered by Watertown, Massachusetts-based m-Qube, is part of a new wireless initiative for Nelvana and TreehouseTV. The mobile store will offer ringtones based on featured music from BABAR, FRANKLIN and other TV series. The storefront will feature an array of downloadable images for use as mobile phone wallpaper. This deal marks the first WAP push-enabled, web-enabled mobile store in Canada, allowing consumers to download content directly from TreehouseTV.com. The mobile store will also have companion sites available on the Canadian Wireless carrier WAP decks.

"m-Qube's full-service, WAP push Mobile Storefront solution provides Nelvana with a new retail channel to sell mobile products on treehousetv.com and on carrier WAP decks," said Andy Miller, svp of business development for m-Qube. "Nelvana is leading the way by offering viewers of its popular shows unique and engaging content to personalize their mobile phones."

In other category news, Nelvana has signed TV for Mobile as a European licensing representative for BABAR, BRACEFACE and BEYBLADE in the mobile market. On BABAR and BRACEFACE, TV for Mobile is sourcing opportunities for ringtones and personalization graphics in Europe and mobile games on a pan-regional basis. The company is also looking into still and animated personalization graphics for BEYBLADE in Europe.

"TV for Mobile has strong relationships with key European players, including mobile operators and mobile games publishers, and a deep understanding of the wireless market," said Scott MacMillan, senior manager of licensing for Nelvana Interactive. "This partnership will help us make a strong, branded entry into the European mobile market."

"Mobile operators are looking for strong licenses to attract consumers, and cartoons are popular with kids, teens and adult nostalgics," said Claire Leproust, TV for Mobile founder/ceo. "Nelvana's properties, which cover all key demographics, are just perfect!"

Moreover, Nelvana announced a unique promotional partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. The exclusive initiative set to launch next month will bring Miss Spider to the Royal Horticultural Society's flagship garden, Wisley, in Surrey. All preschoolers who visit the garden will receive a free MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH FRIENDS activity program designed to introduce them to the 240-acre garden and the series' characters.

"The world of Sunny Patch is a microcosm of our own; it introduces children to bugs and their environment," said Murphy. "Our partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and its world-renowned gardens brings Sunny Patch to life on a large scale, and the draw of Miss Spider and her irrepressible bug brood is sure to add another level of excitement for the children who visit Wisley."

Sue Thompson, marketing manager for RHS Garden Wisley, commented, "Thousands of children visit RHS Garden Wisley each year, and for some time we have wanted to introduce activities for our younger visitors, but have lacked the resources. Much to our delight, Nelvana has enabled us to introduce our first preschool activity program one that is both fun and educational. We feel that this program will engage children on a magical journey through the Garden."

Fisher-Price, Nelvana's global master toy licensee for MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH FRIENDS, will have exclusive retail presence in the award-winning Wisley gift shop, launched in August with a month-long feature window.

Fisher-Price, along with U.K. licensing partners Martin Yaffe Intl (wheeled toys) and David Halsall (outdoor toys), will soft-launch the MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH FRIENDS consumer products program this fall. Recently signed partners include Carlton Cards and Worlds Apart.

Nelvana Ltd. is one of the world's leading international producers and distributors of children's programming and products. Nelvana is owned by Corus Ent., a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is a market leader in both specialty TV and Radio. The company's other interests include music, television broadcasting and advertising services. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto and New York Exchanges. Corus' website can be found at www.corusentertainment.com.

m-Qube, a leading mobile channel enabler, helps companies, develop, deliver, and bill for mobile content, messaging and applications. m-Qube's end-to-end technology platform, carrier relationships and value-added services empowers consumer facing companies and their service providers to take advantage of wireless as a content delivery, marketing and communications channel. Headquartered in Boston, m-Qube has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Toronto. For more information, visit www.m-Qube.com.

TV for Mobile is a French company specialized in mobile content rights distribution, as well as production and publishing of highly marketed and customized content whose common point is their successful exploitation on TV channels. TV for Mobile has also developed a specific expertise in video and mobile phones to take advantage of the GPRS and UMTS networks.

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Rick DeMott
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