Turns out the red planet could be the source of some serious green.
Canadian animation studio Island of Misfits (IoM) Media Ventures inked a development deal with Keith Chapman (pictured) for his new CGI-animated series Farmer Mars. The preschool show is an original concept from Chapman, the creator of PAW Patrol and Bob the Builder.
Set on Mars, the 52 x 11-minute series tells the story of a young Earth boy who gets a job farming fruits, vegetables and flowers. In addition to out-of-this-world technology and vehicles, the show will also feature alien animal species. These different elements open up potential for a raft of consumer products, including roleplay, vehicles, action figures and collectibles.
“I never think of just an idea for a television show,” Chapman says. “It’s not enough to just make a show these days. You’ve got to think about the commercial aspect and how to get enough success to pay for seasons two and three, and build up a brand.”
When the series is ready to be pitched to major broadcasters, Chapman says the team might first put together toy samples or even sign a master toy partner. He certainly has a history launching toy-focused brands. Produced by Spin Master and airing on Nickelodeon, PAW Patrol contributed to US$1.63 billion in revenue for Spin Master in fiscal 2018, with the company’s preschool and girls segment growing 35.8% to the tune of US$139.1 million. According to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, PAW Patrol generated nearly US$1.4 billion across entertainment categories from 2015 through the end of 2018. The brand ranked seventh among total toy revenue in 2018.
In addition to having a concept that is ripe for consumer products, Chapman says the Mars setting will contribute to the show’s long-term success. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July led to a galaxy’s worth of space-themed content and consumer products. With the world’s sights now set on missions to the red planet, he says kids’ obsession with all things outer space will only escalate.
And, similar to PAW Patrol, Chapman says he plans to build out the world within the show to allow for adventures outside of the Mars-based farm. He adds, however, that with each new idea he is careful not to step on his own toes by creating shows too similar to his previous properties because his deals generally include back-end profit participation in addition to consulting and writing fees.
Chapman’s relationship with Dana Landry, president and CEO of IoM, dates back to when Landry served as CEO of DHX Media (now WildBrain).
“We stayed in touch, and I met his new team. They’re a really lovely bunch of people and we had a couple of meetings where they asked me if I had any IPs, preschool in particular. Hopefully Farmer Mars will be the first of a few shows that we can develop together.”
Beyond Farmer Mars, Chapman says he’s working on several new properties including a show for the six-to-10 set, an animation series aimed at adults, a feature film, a number of live-action ideas and several short-form concepts.
“Really, though, preschool is what I’m known for and particularly enjoy creating,” he says.