Cyber Group Studios: Toon Time


Raphaëlle Mathieu on what’s next for Cyber Group Studios’ always-ambitious undertakings.

Cyber Group Studios’ central aim is to deliver content to as many kids in as many markets across the globe as possible. Over the years, the company has been steadily growing its reach in keeping with that mission. “We launched the company producing and distributing preschool CGI with Ozie Boo and Zou,” says Raphaëlle Mathieu, senior VP of sales, acquisitions and new media. “Then we went into bridge with Tales of Tatonka and jumped into the kids’ area thanks to Zorro the Chronicles. We headed into 2D thanks to Mirette Investigates and to 2D cartoon thanks to Taffy, a Boomerang original series co-developed and co-produced with Turner International; and, of course, we reached another level thanks to the adaptation of Gigantosaurus, our hit series.”

Keen to work with independent producers to distribute their productions—and to co-produce with them when it makes sense—Cyber Group has partnered with Media Valley for Ernest & Rebecca, commissioned by TF1 and ZDF; and La Chouette Compagnie and Supamonks Studio, with which the company co-produced Droners, commissioned by TF1 in France and WDR in Germany.

“We look for partners with passion and projects that are complementary to our own in-house productions and development,” explains Mathieu, pointing to a partnership with Graphilm Entertainment in Italy that led to the co-production of the animated Nefertine on the Nile series for Rai. “We are also very happy to have structured a strategic partnership with the Russian studio Soyuzmultfilm and to have launched the joint label Cyber Soyuz Junior, starting with two wonderful series: Orange Moo Cow and Squared Zebra.”

As part of its strategy to connect to kids around the world, Cyber Group Studios has explored new genres and animation techniques, including cartoon. “This is a very specific genre in which we had a strong will to work but literally no experience,” says Mathieu. “We worked with the talented director Ahmed Guerrouache and are so happy with the result that we are now developing another original series with him.”

Book adaptations have been particularly successful for Cyber Group. Gigantosaurus, based on the book by Jonny Duddle, has been translated into 29 languages and is available in 194 territories. Last fall, it was awarded the 2021 Export Award for animation by UniFrance. “When we adapt a book, there is a lot of creative work involved to bring the series to life,” says Mathieu. “Very often, one single book must be adapted into a total of 52 episodes of 11 minutes each. We believe that the storytelling will naturally bring its own style. The development team attached to the project will work very hard to make sure we adopt the right storytelling for each story and genre.”

To reach older children, Cyber Group is looking to delve into the anime style of animation that has proven popular with the demographic. “That is quite a challenge and definitely our next one,” says Mathieu. “We trust as well that older kids tend to watch more serialized content that the streamers offer more easily than [traditional] broadcasters. Therefore, we are developing huge brands withFinal Fantasy IX, for example, and original series we will soon be at liberty to discuss.”

Currently in internal development, Cyber Group is working to make Final Fantasy IX “the best show that will conquer the original fans and will bring a new generation of kids on these original adventures. Pierre Belaïsch [senior VP of creative development] and his team are working very hard to bring us in the coming months cutting-edge new programs in directions you are not used to finding at Cyber Group Studios!”

Top of mind for Cyber Group Studios as it looks to the year ahead are the following priorities, according to Mathieu: “Keep on being multi-local. Keep on looking for talent everywhere. Work even more with the talent we are already working with. Remain humble and open-minded. Test and try to learn and create in all areas. Keep talking to the heart of kids and families. Never forget that we have a strong responsibility to kids and their families. Never forget that we are so lucky to work in our industry.”