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League of Legends, Netflix and Disney + promote the Canary Islands in the animation industry

Arcane. Netflix

The success of League of Legends led its creators, the Californian studio Riot Games, to consider creating a television series based on the video game universe in 2015. The pandemic delayed its release until December 2021. When it was released, however, it was a resounding success: the animated story inherited from The Squid Game the position of the most watched series on Netflix during the three weeks in which its chapters have been distributed and accumulates more than 130 million hours of viewing. It is the best valued production of the platform in its entire history. The studio in charge of developing the series has been the French Fortiche, which has divided the work into three offices. Two in Paris and Montpellier (south of France), and the third, in Gran Canaria, the island where they settled in October 2020.

This is not the only outstanding case. Raúl Carbó is an engineer, animator and special effects technician from San Sebastian, who has lived in Montpellier for 30 years. There he founded the production company Infecto 16 years ago. For 14 years he devoted himself to advertising, mainly for companies such as Michelin or BIC. At one point in the past decade, however, Carbó decided to tackle larger animation projects. They began to make trailers for series and it didn't take long for them to cross paths with writer Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian and her character Tara Duncan.

The books about this warrior character had been adapted for television more than a decade ago (his episodes broadcast in Spain Clan TV). “The opportunity arose to do an animation project with this character,” explains Carbó. “And for this we decided to settle in Tenerife, take advantage of its tax incentives and facilities and thus make a series of higher quality”. The result: Tara Duncan will be the first series entirely produced in the Canary Islands that will share space with the Beatles and Star Wars on the platform Disney+. The company had five employees in France. Now there are 180 in Tenerife. “The Canary Islands were the option to leave France from the beginning,” says Amélie Houpline, Production Manager at Fortiche in the Canary Islands. “Coming here has been good news for the company”.

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Fortiche and Ineffect are not the only two examples of how the animation industry is taking root in the archipelago under the auspices of the Canary Islands Special Zone. There is the example of Koi, which through its parent company Zinkia are the producers of Pocoyo (although given that this is a mute character, the canary accent is not appreciated); Ánima Kitchent, a group that has offices in Mexico and Madrid, produces in the Canary Islands the renewed version of la Familia Telerín

( now named Cleo & Cuquín); o Mondo TV, a company listed on BME Growth, which produces Nina and Olga for RAI in Italy. Or even entirely Canarian companies, such as Tenerife-based 3 Doubles, whose founders previously worked on Planet51 (the Spanish animated film that in its day it was the largest film production produced in Spain and in 2009 it won the title of the highest-grossing Spanish film worldwide).

Still from the trailer for 'Tara Duncan'

“The Canarian animation industry practically did not exist in 2016”, explains Pablo Hernández, president of the Canarian Special Zone. “Right now there may be more than 1,000 employees in the sector, according to the data provided by the companies.” The annual growth rate is 99.8% since 2016, according to the ZEC. “It's not just the incentives”, completes Raúl Carbó. “We receive support in the area of ​​innovation, and it provides a solid foundation for building long-lasting companies. And this could give rise to the creation of a European operations center (hub) for animation: there is talent, there is support, there are incentives”.

According to the latest edition of the Book Target of the Spanish Animation and Visual Effects Industry, in Spain there are 250 companies. The two main centers of concentration of activity are, obviously, the Community of Madrid and Catalonia. Together, they add up to 60% of the total. “However, the distribution could change,” says this document. “60% of companies declare they are willing to relocate to other communities.” If in the ZEC we have 12 animation companies”, Hernández maintains, this means that we have approximately between 5% and 7.5% of the national fabric in number of companies, well above our percentage of GDP or population. The number of jobs may account for 13.3% of the approximate total employment.

And, both Carbó and Hernández stand out, What may be more important is that animation can be a source of well-paid employment for an autonomous community like the Canary Islands, at the head of Spain in terms of unemployment and extremely dependent on the services sector. “We want to go to primary schools”, says the businessman from San Sebastian, “to explain to parents and students what it means to be an entertainer and how much you can earn. It is a creative job in which there is no unemployment and it is well paid. It is a real job, in a strong industry where there is a future”.

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