Australian subsidiary of Studio 100 aims to double its turnover

Flying Bark, Studio 100's Australian animation studio, aspires to double its sales in the coming years. Studio 100 chief executive Hans Bourlon announced this on Tuesday in an interview with Belga on the sidelines of the Belgian economic mission to Australia. To achieve this, the company will focus on selling animated series to streaming services, where it sees great potential.

Sydney-based Flying Bark, founded in 1968, was acquired by Germany's EM Entertainment in 2006 and then by Studio 100 in 2008. Initially, Flying Bark only produced its own content, but in recent years, it has increasingly offered animation services to other companies, known as "service work". The characters created as a result of this work are not officially owned by Studio 100, meaning they do not appear in Plopsa theme parks.

By focusing on this "service work", Flying Bark is winning more contracts from the big streaming giants. A few months ago, it was announced that the Studio 100 subsidiary would be making a spin-off of the hugely popular Stranger Things for Netflix and an animated series based on Avatar for Paramount. There are also "a number of big projects coming up in the near future," the company confirms.

Bourlon points out that there is a lot of competition between streaming services for animated series. "Children are often the deciding factor because not everyone can take on four or five subscriptions to streaming services," he says. In addition, a prominent local competitor, Animal Logic, recently dropped out after being acquired by Disney, says Bourlon. Flying Bark is entirely independent, which allows it to sell its services to multiple players.

Willy Borsus, John Graham, Hadja Lahbib, Hans Bourlon, Princess Astrid of Belgium, Barbara Stephen and Matthias Diependaele ©BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE
Willy Borsus, John Graham, Hadja Lahbib, Hans Bourlon, Princess Astrid of Belgium, Barbara Stephen and Matthias Diependaele ©BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

Flying Bark should be able to virtually double its turnover by 2025 "because we are in pole position", says Bourlon. Today, the company's annual turnover is around 35 million euros, but by 2025, it should be 65 million, he says. According to Barbara Stephen, Flying Bark's CEO, making multi-season series for streaming services and creating in-house content is essential.

Bourlon also praises Australia's "overseas mentality", which he says makes it the perfect place for Flying Bark's headquarters. Australia's local and federal governments also make the country attractive for recruitment through various tax initiatives. The company now employs around 400 people of 60 different nationalities and hopes to add about 150 more over the next few years. It recently opened a second animation studio in Los Angeles, USA, which employs roughly 50 people.

To attract new talent, the company is also looking to the games sector, which is growing in popularity, Stephen confirmed. She pointed out that this sector also produces graduates who have the qualities to enter the animation sector. Stephen attended a Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) event on games with Bourlon in Sydney on Tuesday.

Princess Astrid visited Flying Bark on Tuesday morning, the second day of an economic mission to strengthen ties between Belgium and Australia. On her trip, she is accompanied by Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib (MR), Flemish Finance Minister Matthias Diependaele (N-VA), Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) and Walloon Economy Minister Willy Borsus (MR). "As a minister, it is not easy to make your children jealous, but they will be jealous during this visit," Minister Diependaele joked in his speech.


#FlandersNewsService | Studio 100 CEO Hans Bourlon delivers a speech at Flying Bark productions headquarters during the Belgian Economic Mission to Australia ©BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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