PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service reportedly is developing an animated series based on the Gremlins film franchise. The series is imagined as a prequel that will follow Mr. Wing, the Chinese grandfather from the films, as a young man having adventures with the friendly Mogwai Gizmo. Warner Bros. TV and Amblin TV would co-produce the series, written and exec produced by Tze Chun (Gotham, Once Upon A Time).
Fremantle is developing a reimagined incarnation of Jim Henson’s ‘80s anthology series The Storyteller for television. The project is in partnership with the Jim Henson Co. and author Neil Gaiman as writer and exec producer. The original Emmy-winning live-action Storyteller featured creatures brought to life by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and provided a retelling of various European folk tales, with a mysterious elfin storyteller (played by the late John Hurt).
Boat Rocker Studios, the BBC and UYoung are co-producing a new animated preschool series based on the Love Monster series of books by British author and illustrator Rachel Bright. The animated series will premiere on the UK’s CBeebies and Chinese broadcasters and digital platforms. Love Monster features the adventures of the only monster in town as he navigates the challenges involved in being a bit funny looking in a world of cute fluffy things. The co-production was approved by China’s National Radio and Television Administration.
Nelvana is developing 2D/3D hybrid animated series Geki Drive with Sumitomo Corp., a global trading company with a large presence in the Japanese animation industry. Based on the hyper-fast customizable cars produced by Bandai Spirits for the Japanese market, Geki Drive means “extreme racing” in Japanese and targets K6-8.
Redknot, the joint venture between Nelvana and Discovery, greenlit their first two animated series – The Dog & Pony Show and Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe – and hired former Spin Master Entertainment exec Patricia Burns as the company’s executive manager/supervising producer. Created by Little Airplane Productions founder/CEO Josh Selig and produced by Burns, The Dog & Pony Show centers on the friendship between two very different best friends who embark on unexpected adventures when they move to the big city. Based on the Kids Can Press graphic novels, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe is a 3D-animated series following the adventures of a house cat with a curious and imaginative mind. Both series will air on Discovery Kids Latin America and Treehouse Canada.
Cake is partnering with Ferly on Kingdom Of None, a 2D adventure series targeting K6-11 and intended for 2021 broadcast. Series follows Meter and his friends James, Leo, Solo and little sister Milli as they transform their everyday lives into imaginary worlds full of adventures.
French studio Xilam Animation is adapting the book Listen to the Moon, a WWI mystery novel by British Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, into a CGI/2D animated family series titled Lucy Lost. Jean-Christophe Dessaint (Le jour des Corneilles) is on board to direct the series, which follows a fisherman and his teenage son in the Scillies Islands who find an injured girl with no memory of who she is.
Aardman unleashed a new development and production slate including kids and family specials and series for preschool and K7-11. On the roster: Preschool series Interstellar Ella (Grid Animation) set for delivery in spring 2020; Happy (Paper Owl Films), a 2D animated series about negotiating preschool feelings and friendships; and Socialbies, aimed at helping 4-6-year-olds understand tech and the Internet.
SLR Productions started production on original CGI animated series Space Nova for Super RTL, ABC ME and Nine Network. Series targets 6-10-year-olds and takes place in 2162 and follows siblings Jet and Adelaide Nova who live on an international space station and accompany their parents on awesome interstellar missions. Space Nova, which received major production funding from Screen Australia and is financed with support from Create NSW, is co-produced with Giggle Garage in Malaysia and will be distributed worldwide by ZDF Enterprises, excluding Australia and New Zealand.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Hasbro and Nickelodeon announced the long-standing Power Rangers franchise will return in a new series, Power Rangers Beast Morphers, premiering Saturday, March 2, at 8a on Nick. In the latest take, the Rangers sport tactical leather suits with their ‘Beast Bot’ sidekicks and elevated battle footage with a new cast of heroes, villains and monsters.
The fourth and final season of Emmy-winning animated series Star vs. The Forces of Evil drops on Disney Channel and Disney XD with back-to-back eps on Sunday, March 10 at 8p. “We put our heart and soul into this final season, and can’t wait to celebrate the exciting conclusion of the series with our fans who have remained so loyal throughout this journey,” said Daron Nefcy, creator and exec producer.
Animated series Victor and Valentino will debut on the Cartoon Network in the US and Latin America with four eps March 30 beginning at 9:30a. Created by Diego Molano (The Powerpuff Girls, Black Dynamite), the supernatural adventure follows two half-brothers learning to appreciate each other’s quirks while exploring a small mysterious town where the legends of Mesoamerican folklore come to life. Victor and Valentino is exec-produced by Cartoon Network Studios and was developed through the studio’s global Artists Program.
In an unusual twist for older fans, the Banana Splits are returning to the small screen in a horror film Warner Bros. TV’s digital studio Blue Ribbon Content. Film will premiere in 2019 via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, in advance of its television debut on Syfy. The new take on the classic characters, first introduced to audiences in 1968, centers on the mayhem that ensues when a boy and his family attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show, and the body count quickly rises.
Discovery Family is planning some My Little Pony magic for March. A My Little Pony: Mane Months marathon will begins Saturday, March 2 at 10a, with a monthlong celebration of highlights of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Equestria Girls featuring Twilight Sparkle.
Spanish-language public broadcaster HITN is launching a premium OTT service in the US and Latin America for preschoolers and their parents. Called EDYE -the name is an abbreviation of HITN’s Spanish-language slogan “EDuca Y Entretiene” (educates and entertains) – the service is slated to debut in March with Dish and Sling as the first distributors. “The service will be sold a la carte as a premium service and will provide children and their parents a wide variety of world-class preschool content dubbed into Spanish-language,” Guillermo Sierra, HITN head of television and digital services, tells CynKids. Sierra says the platform “will be different from any other streaming services because it will combine four different content categories. It will have a very wide VOD library, and will also have games, books but most importantly, it will have educational guides to help parents use the content to provide a learning experience for their children.”
Nickelodeon is stepping up its relations with Netflix in a new deal to produce two feature-length movies, based on its brands Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Loud House, for the streamer. The Nickelodeon Studios production deal follows Nick’s exclusive partnership with Netflix on Pinky Malinky, which premiered on the streaming service in 2018, and the reimagined live-action series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which begins production this year.
The Discovery #Mindblown app, the latest offering in the company’s series of STEM-focused digital and consumer products for kids, is out. The app enables users to learn more about five targeted topics of interest – animals and dinosaurs, space and planets, humans, machines and robotics, and our earth – through videos, interactive games and augmented reality tech.
Rovio Entertainment is adapting Angry Birds On the Run, the first live-action serialized short-form Angry Birds series, into a longer form special distributed by Cake. The series will also be offered in its original format of 22 two-minute eps. Angry Birds On the Run debuted in late November 2018 on the Angry Birds YouTube Channel, with new episodes hitting every Saturday and has received 4 million combined views and an average 95 percent positive response on YouTube to date.
marblemedia launched CAVCO-certified marbkeKids on YouTube. With its CAVCO distinction, the channel, which streams content for K6-12 from Canadian and international producers, has the ability to trigger tax credits and private funds for original Canadian productions.
Mercis Media BV appointed digital network and studio WildBrain to manage and grow the YouTube presence of its Miffy brand on an exclusive worldwide basis. Created in 1955 by celebrated Dutch author and artist Dick Bruna, Miffy is a multi-entertainment brand featuring an adorable white bunny. WildBrain will manage a library of more than 200 Miffy videos across existing and soon to launch Miffy YT channels, including the relaunch of a Miffy English YT channel with a focus on the US market.
Star Stable launched music label Star Stable Music as a complement to its gaming platform. Through the label, which debuted with distribution on nearly 40 music sites including Spotify and Apple Music, Star Stable is making in-game songs accessible any time to fans. “Our community is our most important asset. We have 15 million registered users around the world who interact with Star Stable in-game and beyond,” Taina Malen, COO/chief new business officer, Star Stable Entertainment, tells CynKids. “We also know teen/tween girls all around the world love to discover new music, so creating a music label was a natural next step to broaden our product and extend outside the game with our story. Music has always been a big part of our game, and this music label and its original music sparks a whole new channel to engage, retain and expand our community of players.” The label plans to create and release three new artists – ranging from traditional rock to electric dance music – in 2019. First single, Lisa Peterson’s “I’ll Be There,” was released February 8 and the fan-made YouTube video for the song has been viewed 250,000 times, with YouTube and Spotify seeing the most traction.
The next title from digital-first studio pocket.watch’s new gaming division P.W Games will be P.W Putting Planet, a mobile free-to-play, augmented reality game slated to debut next month. The game, developed in conjunction launching in conjunction with Superstar Games, is inspired by pocket.watch creators HobbyKidsTV. Players will interact with a virtual golf experience, and the game also contains a fully functional YouTube player so that players can watch their favorite HobbyKidsTV videos as they play – a first for any mobile augmented reality game. The studio also partnered with Outright Games to bring its first console game, Race with Ryan, to market in fall of 2019. P.W. Games’ first title, Tag With Ryan, launched in late December and has been downloaded more than 1 million times. P.W Games is also working alongside to launch.