Chorion deal takes Noddy to Hollywood

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Noddy and Big Ears, the children's characters owned by Chorion, are set to feature in a Hollywood film under a deal unveiled yesterday.

Chorion has signed an agreement with some unnamed independent US producers, for a six-figure sum. The deal gives them the option of making a Noddy movie. They have a year to put the package together or Chorion can take the project elsewhere (and keep the money). The earliest expected release date for the film is 2004.

The film will draw on a new computer-generated image of the rosy cheeked boy Noddy, which will replace the old stop-frame model previously used. The updated character will feature in a forthcoming 100-part TV series. Chorion has agreed TV contracts for the series in a number of countries and a UK TV deal is planned for this year.

Nick James, the managing director of Chorion's intellectual properties division, said: "We needed to rethink Noddy for the 21st century. Instead of the old jerky movement, Noddy is now fully animated."

Chorion also owns the rights to Agatha Christie's books and yesterday said its partwork collectable series, launched at the start of this month, was so far exceeding expectations. Mr James said the profitability of this venture would depend on how many people took out subscriptions for the whole series.