After reaching 165 million viewers globally in Q1 2016, Cartoon Network has snapped up a sixth season of its mixed-media family sitcom The Amazing World of Gumball.
Production on the new season of the UK- and Germany-produced animated series began this month at Cartoon Network’s EMEA studio, Great Marlborough Productions, in Shoreditch, London.
The greenlight arrives prior to the show’s fifth season international premiere this September and its North American debut next year.
Currently in its fourth season airing on Turner’s Cartoon Network channels worldwide, The Amazing World of Gumball follows the adventures of an intrepid blue cat and his quirky family the Wattersons.
For season six, Mic Graves is returning to direct, and longtime Gumball series and line producer Sarah Fell is back, too, but in an executive producer role, and show creator Ben Bocquelet will remain on to write and showrun.
In light of the sixth-season commission, Bocquelet opens up about the show’s longevity, how it has changed and its future.
Are you surprised that a Cartoon Network European production can have worldwide ratings success?
We tried our best. I thought the nature of the show, particularly the visual aspect, could be quite a challenge to a mainstream audience, but I’ve always been amazed at how open-minded the audience has been to the look of the show and the kind of jokes we present. I thought there might be two or three seasons and that would be it. At the same time, I see the amount of effort our team puts into it, so in that respect I’m not surprised people would enjoy the show.
How has showrunning the program changed since it launched in 2010?
We learned how to handle a pipeline that would help us achieve our goals. It was a fun way to start, because the series is a visually bizarre thing to put together. We had to determine if we would start from photographs and then storyboard from that, or vice versa. Then step by step we became less stupid and more professional.
We don’t do storyboard-driven shows anymore. We script them, then we keep working on them heavily at the storyboard stage. From there, we already do a pre-technical breakdown, where we look at where to source our photographic backgrounds. This makes a big difference, but we also added a very detailed layout stage in the process to make sure we have all of the right elements for the backgrounds and to also ensure that the 2D and 3D being animated separately will come back and fit exactly right. Layout has been the key to our success so far.
In addition, amazing talents also emerged from the team, and we had a chance to let them develop—people like our new episode director Antoine Perez who used to be our art director. We’ve kept most of the core team the same throughout the seasons.
What will make the new season stand out?
We haven’t started writing scripts yet, but we already have some episode ideas we know will make it in. There will be some kind of a The Amazing World of Gumball-meets-Frozen episode, but it will be more of a satire of the princess myth than a cross-over. Also, the mystery of what exactly is The Amazing World of Gumball is going to keep getting explored and the walls are going to start collapsing a little bit.
The IP has been a hit digitally. How involved are you in Gumball app development and its YouTube channel?
We’ve done some eps that were created as clip or sketch shows for mobile platforms. Even early on we did a marketing campaign that was based around YouTube and Twitter. I was directly involved in all of these. Even though I would love to make a Gumball video game, it’s not immediately going to happen because I have to focus on the show. I’ve enjoyed both of the recent apps, though.
What’s the greatest opportunity for the property?
I have a passion for video games so I would love to make one and be directly involved, but there have been all kinds of cool extensions. There is a Gumball ride in Dubai and there are funny t-shirts, toys and food. I was in Spain recently and I got to eat some Gumball biscuits, which was quite exciting. As far as the show goes, the story of these characters can be exploited in other formats.