Cartoon series set for launch

For millions of television viewers around the world, Thailand may soon be recognized as the home of a seashell cartoon character named Shelldon.

This is the hope of Thai-owned 3D-cartoon producer Shellhut Entertainment, which will launch its “Shelldon” animated television series on local screens in the fourth quarter. However, the 26-episoded series of 30-minute cartoons has already attracted interest abroad, and the company hopes its main character will someday be universally recognized.

Shelldon is supposedly the world’s first cartoon character created from seashells.

The company has spent 8 years completing the series at a cost of Bt83 million, with an additional budget of Bt10 million for marketing activities.

If Shelldon is successful, it will lead the company towards its eventual goal of becoming a full-scale multimedia-entertainment business.

Managing director Dr Jwanwat Ahriyavraromp (or Jirayuth Chusanachoti) said Shellhut Entertainment hoped Shelldon would be universally broadcast, starting in next year’s second quarter. So far, 45 countries have responded to early efforts to market the Thai cartoon.

“Our goal is to create interesting cartoon characters, so a character created by a Thai company could become as widely recognized as Mickey Mouse” he said.

The company has appointed UKbased Entertainment Rights as its distributor. A US television giant has expressed interest in screening the series.

Locally, Shelldon will make his first appearance on Channel 3 in evening prime time this year. One episode will be screened each week, with the episodes cut in half and screened for 15 minutes a night, two nights a week.

The series takes audiences on a journey into an underwater world, with Shelldon, the seashell character, in the leading role. The show tackles three main concepts: individual giving, self-confidence and self-esteem and the problem of global warming.

As a result, its target audience is not only children, but also teenagers and adults.

Shellhut Entertainment is also planning to make an animated feature film using the seashell characters from Shelldon. It will be called “Legend of the master” Dr. Jwanwat said both the script and the music were finished and that Sony had a controlling interest.

“We are ready to produce this film but want to wait for feedback from the tv series and hear the conclusions of our international distributor” he said, adding that investment in the film would reach Bt300 million, with production planned for 2010 and 2011.

The Shelldon TV series will also be available on VCD and DVD for home viewing about a month after the series finishes on Channel 3. Licensing, merchandising, soundtrack sales, online games and comic books are also in the pipeline.

Dr. Jwanwat hopes income generated in Thailand will recoup 60-70 percent of production costs, and sales to one potential foreign buyer would allow the company to break even. In the longer term, the cartoon series is expected to generate Bt500 million within 5 years.