San Francisco-based Wild Brain, best known for its commercial work in the past, has been moving and shaking in the entertainment scene recently. The shop may be up for an Oscar nomination for CGI short film Hubert’s Brain–plus, it has a pair of new CGI series in the works and expansion on the brain. International footprints in Munich with Wild Trixx (launched in August) and in Britain with Wildbrain U.K. (last month) have given the ambitious prodco more clout abroad. ‘We want to be a diversified animation studio,’ explains Steve Ramirez, VP of marketing and business development for the seven-year-old studio, and a key step in achieving that goal lies in gaining global access.
Another focus will be making sure that the production machine keeps churning out the hits. Wild Brain currently has two new series in development, starting with Virus Hunters for boys six to 11. The CGI show features a cool young hacker and a digital superheroine who work together to vanquish evil viruses and overcome other computer-world pitfalls. The original concept combines ‘an American anime sensibility’ with a humorous take on the world of digital viruses. Set for 26 half hours, Virus Hunters is in development with a per-episode budget of around US$300,000.
For the female end of the kids demo, Vanilla Pudding is about a nature-loving little girl who turns into a superhero to prevent imminent environmental disasters. So, move over Green Peace. The 26 x half-hour TV project will likely be rendered in CGI, but on a 2-D budget scale for around US$300,000 to US$350,000 per ep. Wild Brain was close to signing the show with a major U.S. network at press time.
In big-screen news, Wild Brain’s CGI-animated short flick Hubert’s Brain is rumored to be on the nominee list for an Oscar next year. The project had been kicking around the studio as a feature-length concept for nearly two years, but ‘we didn’t have a spare US$30 million to US$40 million lying around,’ laughs Ramirez. The short version showcases some great voice talent, including Peter Falk and long-time voice actor Jonathan Harris (Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Spider-Man TV series and Darkwing Duck).
Hubert is a brilliant, yet socially dejected American child. On a field trip, he’s trapped in a museum’s storage area by a bully and finds a brain… that can talk. The brain offers to help Hubert get out of this mess, if Hubert promises to take the brain with him. Once free, Hubert has to find a body for his new friend and transplant him.