Managing director Stephan Schesch has taken over control of the Berlin-based production house Animation X Gesellschaft zur Produktion von Animationsfilmen following the exit of the shareholders X-Filme creative pool and David Groenewold's Promedium from the joint venture.

Speaking exclusively to on the eve of this year's Cartoon Movie co-production market in Babelsberg, Schesch explained that Animation X will be merged with his Munich-based production outfit Schesch Filmproduktion under the new name of Schesch Film Company with headquarters in Munich and a branch office in Berlin.

Founded in 2004 under Schesch, Animation X had planned to develop features in classic cell or modern 3-D animation aimed at precisely defined target groups - such as young children and their parents or teenagers - to present a viable alternative to the competition coming from the US.

The outfit's only production under the X-Filme/Promedium regime was Hayo Freitag's Tomi Ungerer adaptation The Three Robbers which was presold during production to France's Wild Side Video and Gebeka. Wild Bunch subsequently picked up international distribution for the film last autumn and sold the rights for the US, UK and Australia to The Weinstein Company as well as to distributors in South America, Italy, Asia and Eastern Europe. To date, The Three Robbers has notched up 370,000 admissions on its French theatrical release by Gebeka since December.

'We are now thinking about developing a TV series out of The Three Robbers because we already had so many ideas for other stories when we were developing the feature film with Tomi Ungurer,' Schesch said.

Moreover, there are plans for another animation feature film based on a Tomi Ungerer book: Moon Man which was first published in the US in 1966 and is described by Schesch as 'Wallace & Gromit meets Dr. Strangelove.'

'We have acquired the film rights and intend this time round to develop the project as a German-French co-production,' he explained.

Meanwhile, this week's Cartoon Movie will be used by Schesch to present another project, the $6.1m (Euros 4m) CGI 3-D animated feature Doctor Doeblinger Geschmackvoller Kasperlfilm, inspired and written by Josef Parzefall and Richard Oehmann, the owners of the Munich Punch and Judy theatre Doctor Doeblingers Geschmackvolles Kasperltheater, with script funding from the State Minister for Culture and Media (BKM) and Kuratorium Junger Deutscher Film.

'This will not just be for young children, but also reach older ones because the characters are so weird and crazy. It will thus also appeal to adults the same way that The Three Robbers had a wide appeal.'

A teaser trailer has been produced with A Film Germany, the German arm of the Danish animation studio A Film, to present at Cartoon Movie on Friday.

'I would really like to make this film in close cooperation with A Film because they have so much experience in CGI animation from Terkel In Trouble to The Ugly Duckling,' Schesch observed, pointing out that he plans to produce the film completely in Germany and have two versions - in the original Bavarian dialect and a German-dubbed version.

In addition, he has optioned the rights to Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli's children's book The Butterfly Workshop, with illustrations by leading German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch, to develop as an animation feature. Funding for the screenplay by Berlin-based Japanese writer Akiko Hitomi has already come from the German Federal Film Board (FFA).