TV-Loonland, the German TV outfit that controls UK theatrical distributor Metrodome, is ramping up production of the third film in its successful Pettson & Findus children's franchise.

The animated film, which goes into production in the next three months, is set to be directed by Torbjorn Janssen, who has co-written the two previous episodes and co-directed the second Pettson picture with Albert Hana Kaminski.

It will once again be co-produced by Loonland and Happy Life, the production subsidiary of Sweden's Svensk Filmindustri (SF) on a budget of some Euros 5m.

International sales will be shared between Loonland and SF, with Loonland handling English-language territories. Delivery is scheduled for late 2004 or a counter-programming slot in January 2005. German TV rights have already gone to ZDF. The two previous Pettson films have clocked up over two million admissions and lent themselves to over 200 different items of merchandising.

Loonland is also reviving it's Heidi film after the meltdown of original partner Kirch put the project onto the back burner. Loonland will now put up a greater sum itself, giving it a 75% stake in the picture, with new partner Nelvana responsible for 25%. Production will be handled through the UK's Telemagination and a sale and leaseback arranged through Ingenious Media.

Loonland president and CEO, Peter Voelkle, said that Metrodome could also move into production. Recent difficulties meant that Loonland increased its stake in the stockmarket traded Metrodome from 25% to 83%, but Voelkle said that the company is now faring better - it had a hit with Donnie Darko - and is likely to be expanded under newly appointed managing director Andrew Keyte, recently with Metro Tartan Video.