When Italian prodco and animation studio Rainbow announced it was teaming up with Netflix to create an exclusive spin-off series for the streaming powerhouse called Winx Club WOW: World of Winx, it set the stage for an exciting new chapter in the global franchise’s already notable 10-year history.
The new deal, which marks Rainbow’s first original IP for a digital platform, will see the studio produce two 13 x 22-minute seasons featuring more serialized storylines to appeal to kids’ appetites for VOD viewing. Both re-imagined seasons will be available in all Netflix territories, with season one arriving early next year, followed by the second season in fall 2016.
The series tags along as familiar Winx protagonist Bloom and her core group of fairies go on an undercover journey around the world in search of talented kids in art, sports, music and science. But before long, trouble arrives in the form of a dangerous mystery in need of solving.
Rainbow’s VP of content, Cristiana Buzzelli, says the idea for the show came about thanks to the studio’s existing relationship with the platform. “In the last couple of years, we started distributing our classic Winx Club library on Netflix and the results were extremely good,” Buzzelli says. “So, considering Netflix was launching more original kids shows, we discussed the possibility of creating an original Winx series exclusively for the platform. It would be re-conceptualized for a digital audience, meaning more serialization and a target age slightly older (eight to 12) than our normal range for TV (four to eight).”
Additional changes will include a completely different artistic look and feel, brand-new characters, and more thrilling and mysterious plot twists not commonly found in the classic series. “The stories are also set on Earth this time and not in the magical dimension, where most of the classic series are based,” adds Buzzelli.
As far as the collaboration goes, she says Rainbow has been very satisfied with the partnership, and it’s been granted complete creative freedom. “Netflix knows that we know everything about the brand and understand how to make it successful. They supervise the production and double-check now and then to ensure the story meets their requirements of content consumption, which is typical of the platform,” she says. “But they do not enter into the creative process on scripts, characters or plot lines. They leave these things up to the IP owner. It’s a good match.”
She notes that the biggest hurdle involved serializing the concept for binge-watching and making a show that would please longtime fans of the brand, as well as attract a new audience. “The challenge was to not lose all of the typical Winx Club elements that made the show so successful, while at the same time adding more mystery-based storytelling in a more urban, metropolitan setting,” she says.
On the flip side, Buzzelli expects the deal with Netflix to open up a new market for Rainbow. “We are working with many digital platforms with the existing library, and the new series will open up partnering opportunities with completely new players in terms of production,” she says. “Also, given how strong Netflix is in the English-speaking markets like the US, UK and Australia, this will definitely boost our presence in these territories, as well as in Japan, where Netflix has just launched and where Winx Club does not have a presence.”
Rainbow’s ultimate plan is to turn Winx Club WOW: World of Winx into a franchise, and Buzzelli says discussions are already underway about rolling out a licensing program for the new IP.