Interview with Raphaëlle Mathieu, Senior Vice President for Sales, Acquisitions & New Media at Cyber Group Studios, about Gigantosaurus, which has been nominated for an Export Awards 2021 in the animation category.
TV France: Can you tell us more about how the show started?
Raphaëlle Mathieu: With pleasure! We were working at Cyber Group Studios with Jonny Duddle on the adaptation of his show, The Pirates Next Door, which we produced for France Télévisions and happily sold to WDR (Germany), Rai (Italy), and Clan (Spain), to name but a few. When Jonny made the trip from his home in Great Britain to visit us in Paris and work on the visual adaptation of the program, he was also starting to draw the first designs for his new book, Gigantosaurus.
Pierre Sissmann, the President of Cyber Group Studios, fell in love with the concept, and we actually decided to work on the adaptation of the book before it was completed. We presented our concept to Cartoon Forum, and Disney quickly jumped on board for EMEA and soon after that, for the world.
TV France: In your opinion, what makes Gigantosaurus so unique?
Raphaëlle Mathieu: It’s the passion and the heart of the whole team that make it work both creatively and in terms of production, financing and sales. Every single person in the company has been so involved, it is frankly incredible! But most of all, Olivier Lelardoux, Head of the Studios and Series Director, has done an incredible job in adapting Jonny’s visual world. More than 40 types of dinosaurs, all of them representative of real species. And more than 100 different backgrounds… And an amazing writing team that bring warmth and fun to adventures that become truly relatable to kids around the world.
TV France: Tell us about the adventures of Gigantosaurus around the world.
Raphaëlle Mathieu: Honestly, it is really overwhelming. On a global scale, the Disney Junior teams around the world have been really supportive of the series. That’s why, after season 1, , we decided to produce seasons 2 and 3 simultaneously – that happens only very rarely. Our financing partners agreed with us, and we are really grateful to France Télévisions and Super RTL to have followed us as well! And after that, the series started to travel around the world on free TV – from Tiny Pop in the UK, Rai YoYo in Italy and Clan in Spain to TV Azteca in Mexico, TVP in Poland, Télé- Québec in Canada, and NHK in Japan – to name but a few. We have also been lucky enough to have the series on Netflix internationally, and on China’s CCTV, which is the biggest channel in the world!
TV France: How has the series done in China?
Raphaëlle Mathieu: It’s an amazing success. As you may know, there are very few non-Chinese programs that make it onto CCTV, particularly to their best slots. Gigantosaurus has already aired six times, and there has been a huge promotional campaign with a lot of local stars saying how much they love the show. We even had Mazu appearing in the New Year Parade, and Season 2 and 3 are on their way to CCTV as well.
TV France: What’s in store for Gigantosaurus beyond the TV series?
Raphaëlle Mathieu: Season 2 starts airing this year on Disney and will soon be on Free TV, but we want to create a much richer landscape for Gigantosaurus beyond the actual TV show. We have been creating 26×2’ shorts – 12 original songs and clips – and an original scripted program called Giganto Club. This digital-native series inspired by the world of Gigantosaurus is in production right now. The program is produced thanks to our new real-time animation pipeline in Roubaix North of France.
And, of course, there are also Gigantosaurus plush toys, books, etc., so that kids can keep their dino friends close in their daily life.
Last but certainly not least, since the very beginning of the financing of Season 1, we have been developing video games. As a matter of fact, we have an in-house department dedicated to video games, and the series has proved to be a turning point in terms of how we approach a production from scratch. That is a real game changer.
TV France: Do you have anything else to add?
Raphaëlle Mathieu: I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all the Gigantosaurus fans and partners out there. We intend to continue working hard to create the best adventures possible so that kids will keep on loving our heroes Mazu, Tiny, Rocky, Bill and, of course, Gigantosaurus, a little more every day!