With a massive British royal wedding last year that netted 29 million viewers in the US alone, according to Nielsen, not to mention a royal baby due this spring and the much-anticipated season three of Netflix’s The Crown on the way, monarchy is having a golden moment. French prodco Gaumont is hoping to tap into the throne fever with its new 52 x 11-minute animated comedy The Royal Family.
Based on the book series of the same name by Christophe Mauri and illustrated by Aurore Damant, the show follows a reluctant royal family that includes eight-year-old Princess Alice, her little brother Prince Harry Junior and their parents King Albert and Queen Victoire. The clan would rather be camping, binge-watching a show or even washing up but, instead, are forced to follow the rules.
“There are many elements of royal protocol that sometimes seem stupid,” says Nicolas Atlan, president of family and animation for Gaumont. “We’re using bits of reality as a source of comedy, but we’re not going to try to be close to reality.”
The prodco is happy with the visual world Damant created and plans on sticking close to the graphic style of the books by keeping it 2D. But rather than focus on the entire clan, as the books do, the producers are honing in on a single character—Princess Alice.
“The audience needs to have a projection and to like one of our characters,” says Atlan.
Originally brought to the table by Gaumont’s head of creative development, Gaëlle Guiny, the prodco moved forward with The Royal Family because it was the best demographic fit to fill out its slate, Atlan says, adding that he expects it will work well on both traditional broadcasters and various platforms.
Guiny is now working with Mauri and Damant on writing the bible and beginning development on the series, though the team is waiting on broadcast commitment before getting into the script.
“We’ll see how much we’re ready to push the concept, and if people are ready to follow us on it. But it’s a five-to-eight (or bridge) show, so I think we can find the right partners for it,” Atlan says. “And it’s becoming a successful book series, which is even better. We know broadcasters and platforms are looking for something that has a little success and a story behind it.
“We want it to be global,” he adds. “I think it talks to everyone. We’ve started to tease it at different markets and everyone reacted really well, whether it’s American, Chinese or French.”