It’s said that cats have nine lives, and now this one has two shows. Xilam Animation greenlit the CGI-animated preschool series Oggy Oggy, inspired by the feline hero of its classic series Oggy and the Cockroaches.
Oggy Oggy marks the French animation studio’s first-ever CGI series, and production on 156 x seven-minute episodes is set to start this summer. With a team of 150 people and a global budget of US$22 million, the first episodes are expected to launch in late 2020 with the second season hitting screens in 2021.
The preschool show will star Oggy as a clumsy kitten, and follow his adventures as he attempts to help other cats in his community. By aging Oggy down (Oggy and the Cockroaches targets kids six to 11), Xilam hopes to expand the popular brand to a younger audience (four to six). The company also hopes to build its strength in the preschool world following the success of its series Paprika, which premiered in France and Italy in 2017 before expanding across EMEA last year.
The switch to CGI was designed to visually differentiate Oggy Oggy from Oggy and the Cockroaches, ensuring the two shows aren’t in direct competition, Xilam CEO Marc du Pontavice told Kidscreen. Moving forward, Xilam plans to increase its 3D efforts until half of its slate is CGI.
“We’ve been thinking about CGI for a long time,” says du Pontavice. “We’re delivering so much more programming and need to diversify. We built a studio in Angouleme, France, with Oggy Oggy as the first CGI project in development.”
It was an adjustment for directors used to working in 2D, du Pontavice says, but he believes the company’s background in slapstick comedy and 2D animation brings a unique flavor to the world of CGI.
“CGI comes with more constraints but it also offers up more tools,” he says. “It’s a brand new world. There are about 30 people working on the Angouleme team now, and by 2020 we hope to have close to 100 people.”
The company also sees Oggy Oggy as an opportunity to shake up its licensing strategy. Xilam began developing the property’s consumer products program at the show’s inception, and is assembling licensing partners across key categories including toys, apparel and homewares.
“This new generation of showrunners is keen to be part of that process,” du Pontavice says. “They’re creating characters that are toyetic. It’s a much more global approach to consumer products.”
Efforts to expand the Oggy and the Cockroaches universe come shortly after the brand celebrated its 20th anniversary (the series boasts 350 episodes over seven seasons, and is available globally). Xilam marked the occasion with a new look and a brand expansion that saw the property spread to new categories, including fashion and food.