Toytown to Tinseltown: Noddy film on the cards

NODDY is going to the movies, rights-owner Chorion said yesterday, as it revealed that a film option for the much-loved wooden boy was sold for a six-figure sum last month.

A Los Angeles-based film-maker has been given a year to organise production of the movie, which is likely to hit screens in 2004. Chorion expects to negotiate a deal worth 15-20 per cent of film revenues.

Chorion Intellectual Properties managing director Nick James said: "We’re extremely pleased that the new look of Noddy has got movie people interested. The film option is the culmination of the development of the digital Noddy."

Chorion has spent 10 million digitising Noddy and his Toyland friends. A 100-part TV series using its CGI animation libraries will be completed next month.

TV deals have so far been signed in 11 countries worldwide. A licensing agreement in China is worth 1.4 million over three years. The series is expected to air in the UK in 2003, although a broadcaster has yet to be agreed.

Chorion’s two divisions are an unlikely mix: Chorion Bars, which runs 18 bars and nightclubs around the UK, and Chorion Intellectual Properties (CIP). The company plans to unveil demerging plans for the two divisions in March.

CIP owns the rights to the complete Enid Blyton literary estate, as well as to Agatha Christie and George Simenon, author of the Inspector Maigret books.

Chorion said that its fortnightly Agatha Christie partwork, launched on 2 January and featuring a Christie novel and magazine, had exceeded sales expectations at 175,000.

Chorion gained control of the rights to Noddy last September, when it paid 6 million to the BBC for its 25 per cent stake. Two million Noddy books were sold worldwide in 2001, and Chorion’s revenues will be "significantly" boosted over the next three years by video and merchandise sales.

In the six months to 30 June 2001 group profits grew 62 per cent, to 3.24 million, boosted by four acquisitions. Like-for-like profit growth was "broadly neutral".

Chorion said it has no immediate plans for the Enid Blyton estate, but James said the company is focusing on Noddy for a reason. As Noddy readers get older they move on to Blyton books for higher age groups. Chorion plans to develop the books as its audience gets older.

Chorion Bars is currently in negotiations to open a venue on Edinburgh’s George Street. A Glasgow venue is expected to open early next year.