We’re rolling out KidScreen’s Best of the Year Awards nominees this week, kicking things off with our five Best Producer nominees. Don’t forget to rock the vote and cast your ballot at www.kidscreen.com/bestof. Without further ado, meet the producers…
Known for its unique 2-D animation aesthetic and smart scripts that keep tweens coming back for more, the Toronto-based studio is now in its fourth season with 6Teen. And Total Drama Action, the follow-up to hit toon Total Drama Island, is rolling out in 2009. Both series were created for Canuck broadcaster Teletoon as original productions, and TDI in particular has gone on to garner record-breaking ratings on Cartoon Network US. (The sale was brokered by the studio’s London-based distributor, Cake Distribution.) A third season, Total Drama: The Musical, is also heading into production.
In the virtual world, the orignal TDI is making a splash with an online environment that allows fans to play and compete on episode-inspired challenges. The site has more than three million registered users and 18% of cable TV online market share in the US. Earlier this year, Teletoon also commissioned 52 episodes of Fresh’s latest production, Stoked!, an animated surf comedy about a group of teens that heads to the West Coast to follow dreams of surf and sun. And the development pipeline is stuffed with new projects including: My Babysitter’s a Vampire! (Teletoon Canada), a CGI/live-action comedy horror feature; In Maya’s Opinion (YTV), a CGI/live-action sitcom; and an animated comedy about campus life called The Zoo (Teletoon Canada). www.freshtvinc.com
The Paris-based production company has had a banner year, led by its monster hit, Monster Buster Club. After airing for only a month on TF1, the series ranked third in the ratings race with four- to 10-year-olds in France (according to Nielsen ratings) and has been settling in on channels across the globe, such as Toon Disney (US) and YTV (Canada). MBC is making its way shortly to Super RTL (Germany) and 12 Jetix Europe feeds. And MBC is branching out into the MMOG space with an elaborate online game co-produced with TF1 currently in the works.
Plus Totally Spies!, which has aired globally since 2002, is currently getting a feature film redux. Marathon has inked a deal with Studio 37 and has presold the big-screen offering to Films de l’Elysée in Benelux, Mikado in Italy and SPI in Eastern Europe. The US$12-million production is expected to be delivered sometime in 2009.
Looking to keep the momentum going, Marathon broke out The Amazing Spiez!, a new 52 x 26-minute series from the creators of Totally Spies!, at MIPCOM Jr. this past October, where it ranked fourth in the screenings. And the much-anticipated Gormiti: Lords of Nature (52 x 26 minutes), based on the best-selling toy line from Giochi Preziosi, made its debut on Italian TV in October. www.marathon.fr
In the past year, Marvel Entertainment has gone from zero to 60 in the TV animation world. The company has made good on its goal of creating animated series to complement each of its tentpole live-action feature films in very short order. Marvel’s 2009 TV lineup includes Marvel Super Hero Squad and The Black Panther as well as the all-new Iron Man: Armored Adventures and Wolverine and the X-Men. Broadcast deals include berths on Nicktoons in the US, Teletoon in Canada, BBC, France 3, Disney Latin America and ABC Australia to name a few.
Behind the scenes, 2008 was also a major planning year for the new team of Simon Philips, president of worldwide consumer products, animation and interactive entertainment licensing, and Eric Rollman, president of Marvel Animation. The pair most recently announced the production of an all-new Thor animated series slated to follow the release of the live-action feature in 2010, plus 26 half-hour episodes of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to follow the 2011 Avengers feature film. As well, the studio has started production on a slate of Marvel anime series being produced in Japan scheduled to debut in 2010.
In the meantime, there’s new home entertainment in the pipeline. Marvel Animation is releasing two direct-to-video animated features annually through its partnership with Lionsgate. Next up is Hulk Vs. in January 2010, followed by Thor: Tales of Asgard later that year. www.marvel.com
There are three words that sum up Shaftesbury Films’ 2008: Life With Derek. Although the live-action juggernaut has just completed its final season, bringing the number of eps to an impressive 70, sales of the series continue around the globe. This year, Super RTL (Germany) picked up season one and two, while season four has been shipped to France 3, Boomerang UK, Nick Australia and New Zealand and Disney US, Germany, Italy, UK and Portugal.
The series has also branched out with a consumer products deal with iToys that will see new lines of merch introduced to retail early next year. Penguin Books has signed on to produce chapter novels for the series. To top it all off, LWD won the prestigious Shaw Rocket Prize in May.
Moreover, new HD live-action production Aaron Stone, from the company’s Shaftesbury Services II division, has been tapped to lead the charge on new boys net Disney XD, which launches in February. Shaftesbury has also had a measure of success with its new 13 x half-hour live-actioner Overruled!, which was delivered this year to Family Channel in Canada and Disney Channel US. And if it seems like the Canadian prodco is developing an expertise in crafting tween live-action comedies, its next series Connor Undercover shouldn’t disappoint. The co-pro with fellow Canuck studio Heroic Films is set to air in 2010 on Family Channel. www.shaftesbury.org
The name Wildbrain is now synonymous with cross-demo hit series Yo Gabba Gabba!, which debuted in August 2007 on Nick Jr. in the US. The Emmy- and BAFTA-nominated show continues to attract a hip lineup of Hollywood celebrities as its second season goes to air.
This year, the prodco launched a two-pronged consumer products program based on the preschool series that’s also proving to be very popular with the college-age crowd. Kidrobot, Wildbrain’s retail subsidiary, first put limited-edition apparel and toys on shelves, and then master toy licensee Spin Master rolled out a mass-market toy line this fall. There will be more Gabba to look forward to as Wildbrain recently confirmed that a feature film is in development. The company also recently signed a development deal with Paramount Pictures’ Nickelodeon Movies for a series of features that showcase Kidrobot’s world of vinyl collectible toys.
On the short-form front, the studio is courting broadcasters for The Aquabats, a live-action/2-D animated comedy series by the Gabba creators that centers on the antics of the bizarre and theatrical real-life indie band of the same name. www.wildbrain.com