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ZDF Enterprises and Red Balloon Film to adapt German young adult bestseller "Alea Aquarius" from Oetinger Publishing Group

MIPCOM/Cannes, 15 October 2019

ZDF Enterprises and German production company Red Balloon Film, led by Managing Director and Producer Dorothe Beinemeier, are to jointly develop and produce an adaptation of the best-selling German young adult novels „Alea Aquarius“ by the author Tanya Stewner ("LittleMiss Dolittle“, original German title "Liliane Susewind").

Their first successful collaboration was the young adult series "Heirs of the Night", which was launched at a World Premiere Screening at MIPJunior this year. Dorothe Beinemeier had already adapted the books and also took care of the project development and financing on the German side.

ZDF Enterprises and Dorothe Beinemeier, now with her newly founded production company Red Balloon Film, are to work together again, and repeatedly in the proven team with screenwriter Maria von Heland, on the development of this new young adult series.

"Alea Aquarius" is planned as a 26x26' series and feature film and will be filmed in English. It is based on the young adult books of the same name by Tanya Stewner, published by Hamburg-based publishing house Friedrich Oetinger. The series will address issues that are important to young people, such as pollution, and tells the story of the mergirl Alea and her friends from the Alpha Cru, who together want to save the oceans and the Earth from destruction. Production is due to be completed in 2021/2022.

The Alea Aquarius books are available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic and are due out soon in Italy. In German-speaking countries alone, the total circulation of the bestseller series already amounts to around 530,000 books. The 5th volume, "Alea Aquarius: The Message of the Rain", was published in Germany on 7 October.

Arne Lohmann, VP ZDFE.junior at ZDF Enterprises, commented, "In the days of Fridays for Future and Greta Thunberg, environmental issues are a hot topic, especially among young people, and this series could not be more in tune with the times."

Dorothe Beinemeier, Producer at Red Balloon Film: „With "Alea Aquarius", author Tanya Stewner has succeeded to tell a story that meets the zeitgeist and spirit of an extraordinary generation, as if she had guessed that Greta Thunberg would come. POWER TO THE CHILDREN! "

Julia Bielenberg, Managing Publisher at Oetinger Publishing Group: "Alea Aquarius" is one of the most successful children's book series of recent years and we are very glad to see the bestseller of Tanya Stewner being adapted for the screen now! The exciting adventure series sends out an important and highly topical message: Save the oceans, protect the underwater world from pollution and ensure a more sustainable use of nature. In doing so, the series really strikes a chord with today’s children."

Tanya Stewner, author of the best-selling “Alea Aquarius“ books: „I'm really happy that my books are being made into a movie and that there are such great partners on board! "


About ZDF Enterprises
ZDF Enterprises was founded in 1993 as a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of Europe's largest and most renowned television broadcasters. Based in Mainz, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for global sales and distribution, realisation of international joint productions, licence purchasing and merchandising of strong programme brands in its own name, for ZDF and for third parties. ZDF Enterprises has successfully established itself as an independent player on both national and international markets. As part of a strong group, the company has at its disposal the largest collection of German-language programmes in the world, as well as an ever-growing stock of international productions, including series and miniseries, TV films, documentaries and children's programmes. In the course of its development and diversification process to date, the ZDF Enterprises Group has opened up numerous business areas in the television and media sector. ZDF Enterprises is therefore now able to offer a comprehensive full-service package, covering every step in the creation and commercial exploitation of successful TV productions, from development and production to the marketing of television licences, merchandising rights, online rights, and much more.

Contact ZDF Enterprises: Christine Denilauler (Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, Email:


About Red Balloon Film

Red Balloon Film was founded in 2016 by CEO and producer Dorothe Beinemeier and the company maze pictures. The company focuses on producing children's and family entertainment for TV and cinema, as well as co-producing high-quality arthouse films and drama series for international markets with a focus on emerging talent. This passion is characteristic of Dorothe Beinemeier's films and expertise. A great strength of Red Balloon is the extensive national and international network of its founders.

About the founders:

Dorothe Beinemeier has produced and co-produced award-winning international children's and young adult films, such as Özgür Yildirim's BOY7, SPUTNIK from Markus Dietrich and MY GIRAFFE by Dutch director Barbara Bredero. In 2016, she received the VGF New Producer Award at the Bavarian Film Awards for her production BOY7 by Özgür Yildirim.

Dorothe Beinemeier has also developed and produced the young adult vampire series "Heirs of the Night" (ZDFE/NDR) in conjunction with Lemming Film, Maipo Film and maze pictures. Currently, she is co-producing Zodiak Belgium's acclaimed international TV series GR5 with the broadcasters VRT and ZDFneo as well as, together with 3B Productions, Bruno Dumonts new movie PAR UN DEMI CLAIR MATIN starring Lea Seydoux.

Dorothe is a member of the Ateliers du Cinéma Européen (ACE 21) and EAVE (2017), both programmes are networks for European producers.

The producers Jörg Schulze and Philipp Kreuzer from maze pictures bring many years of experience in production, financing and marketing at an international level to the new company. Maze pictures is an independent production company based in Munich and Berlin with a subsidiary, maze pictures swiss, in Lucerne and a stake in Red Balloon Film in Hamburg.

Under the umbrella of maze pictures, we use our network in the international film and television market and our many years of artistic and technical experience in successfully bringing unique fictional material to life to develop and (co-)produce feature films and high-end series for the national and international market. Our first feature film, THE HAPPY PRINCE, which was the directorial debut of Rupert Everett, starring Colin Firth and Emily Watson, enjoyed a successful première at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and was screened in cinemas worldwide. In 2018, we collaborated on a Franco-German co-production of an adaptation of the best-seller THE CRIMSON RIVERS into an 8-part TV series. The second season is currently in production.

Contact Red Balloon Film: Dorothe Beinemeier (CEO/Producer), Red Balloon Film GmbH, tel.: +49 40 500 90 808, e-Mail:,


About Verlag Friedrich Oetinger        

In 1946, the Verlag Friedrich Oetinger publishing company, which was named after its publisher, laid the foundations for the present Oetinger publishing group with its publishing companies and brands. Since the publication of the German-language edition of Astrid Lindgren’s world-famous “Pippi Longstocking” in 1949, Oetinger has been one of the most successful publishers of children’s and young adult books and time and again a trailblazer on the German-language children’s and young adult media market.

The Oetinger publishing group comprises several companies operating in classic print publishing as well as the digital publishing market. They are: Oetinger incl. Oetinger Taschenbuch, Dressler and its Imprint Ellermann, Oetinger Media and Verlag für Kindertheater. This third-generation, family-managed media house has now been publishing stories for children, young people and adults for over 70 years. Its product portfolio spans books, e-books, audiobooks, audio-downloads, films and interactive apps, as well as a range of promotional merchandise.

In addition to the children’s and young adult literature classics of Astrid Lindgren and others, the group’s current programmes are a collection of works by the most popular German authors, among them Kirsten Boie, Cornelia Funke and Paul Maar. The “Ogglies”, the “Sat” and “Pettersson and Findus” are children’s favourites with cult character. Titles like the “Inkheart”-trilogy and “The Tributes of Panem”, the German version of “The Hunger Games”, remained on the SPIEGEL Bestseller Lists for weeks and their film adaptations were also blockbusters. Many of the group’s authors, illustrators and translators have won prestigious awards.

Contact Verlag Friedrich Oetinger: Judith Kaiser (Press Officer), Verlag Friedrich Oetinger GmbH, Tel.: +49 40 607 909 765, e-Mail:,


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany


Alea Aquarius Poster
Tanya Stewner
Alea Aquarius Buch, Copyright Claudia Carls