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Cartoon 2022 - Cartoon Next

Rapporto industria: Animazione

A Cartoon Next, Céleste Surugue condivide il segreto del successo di Asterix

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Il direttore generale di Éditions Albert René ha parlato dello sviluppo del franchise e di come è diventato uno dei più popolari al mondo

A Cartoon Next, Céleste Surugue condivide il segreto del successo di Asterix
Il direttore generale di Éditions Albert René, Céleste Surugue

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

On day 2 of Marseille's Cartoon Next (12-15 April), Éditions Albert René’s general director Céleste Surugue hosted a 45-minute talk titled "The Next Incarnation of a Heritage Franchise: Asterix".

Surugue shared some of the secrets behind Asterix's 60-year-long success story, which began in 1959 with the titular character's first appearance in Pilote Magazine. He highlighted how Alberto Aleandro Uderzo and René Goscinny shared "the friendship, the pleasure and the fun of working together as well as the same artistic vision." They decided to do something more ambitious and to stop considering kids as naive minds, and treat them as adults. They drew and wrote complex stories with multiple layers of meanings, including elements of slapstick, an irreverent humour rich in puns and caricatures, the presence of historical references, the creation of "a fairytale world to mock modern society" and the promotion of values such as friendship, freedom and protecting the environment.

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The idea was to find a subject with a strong connection with French culture and while looking at the country's history, they ended up choosing its first defeat, namely the Gaul's Roman colonisation.

"This defeat, however, turned into a huge success. In 1961, Asterix's first album sold 6,000 copies. In 1967, the franchise had sold 1 million copies. A new album is now published every two years, with print figures of 5 million and an estimate readership of 20 million," Surugue explained. To date, Asterix sold 385 million copies worldwide, translated in 111 languages and dialects, making it the world's most widely translated comic book series.

Uderzo and Goscinny created "an adventurous and fun world steeped in positive values," set in the year 50 BC when the Gaul is entirely occupied by Romans, except for one small village of indomitable Gauls fighting back their invaders.

The franchise co-operated with around 360 "trendy brands" and released over 1,000 licenses, including a recent deal with Playmobil for a new toy line. Since 1989, Asterix also owns its dedicated theme park and resort, attracting an average of 2.3 million visitors per year.

The franchise includes 10 animated movies, which recorded over 53 million viewers worldwide. The inception of Studios Idefix in 1974 and the opening of Studio 58 in 2016 were among the necessary steps to make Asterix a "100% Gaulish production," considered the best solution to keep the creative process under control from start to finish and to employ French manpower.

After five years of brainstorming, in 2021 the team released an exclusive 52x11 spin-off series, Dogmatix and the Indomitables. Based on the original comic book series, this prequel is set in 52 BC and explores Idefix's past two years before he met Obelix.

"It's a new universe, respectful of the creators' original work. [...] We needed the same mix of adventure and humour that's so popular in the original comic books, filled with puns and scraps, and all sprinkled with a touch of magic. We imagined strong and amusing characters resisting the invaders as in the albums but at this time the action takes place in Lutetia. The series is funny, educational and rooted in a universe known by parents, thus offering real moments of co-viewing," added Surugue.

Last year, the series aired in France and Germany, and it will premiere on European broadcasters such as VRT, NRK, TVP, Czech Television, DRAMA and RTP over the course of this year.

"The adventure will continue in 2024, with a new animated series based on the album Asterix and the Big Fight," Surugue announced. The show, with Alain Chabat at the helm and Alain Goldman serving as the producer, will be accompanied once again by massive licensing and publishing initiatives.

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