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Disney+ grows non-fiction slate

Chimp and Pixar docs, as well as teen competition series, get the greenlight as the new SVOD expands its unscripted offering.
January 30, 2020

Disney+ is continuing its buildup of non-fiction programming with greenlights for four new series.

First up, the SVOD is developing a teen version of reality competition series The Quest. Taking place in the fantasy world of Everealm, the new show puts teen competitors into an immersive world complete with practical effects, scripted characters and designed creatures who will interact with them. The kids compete in challenges and encounter mystical beings as part of an unfolding drama.

Based on the eponymous 10-episode series starring adults, which aired on ABC in 2014, the new version will be executive produced by Mark Ordesky and Jane Fleming for LA-based Court Five Productions (the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy), Scout Productions’ David Collins, Michael Williams, Rob Eric (Queer Eye); and New Media Collective’s Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri and Mark Dziak (The Amazing Race).

The streamer is also developing the adventure competition show The Maze, while will feature five teams—each with one adult and one teen—who will solve riddles, brainteasters and decipher clues to guide them through European cities and fairytale villages. New Media Collective’s Munster, Doganieri and Dziak are exec producers.

Growing Disney+’s animal-focused catalogue, National Geographic is producing the six-part docu-series Meet the Chimps, which follows a group of chimpanzees in the 200-acre refuge Chimp Haven (pictured). Produced by London-based Blink Films (Meet the Penguins, The Creative Brain), the show is exec produced by Justine Kershaw and Michael Welsh, with Virginia Quinn as series director.

The House of Mouse is also leveraging the popularity of Pixar with an untitled docu-series about the animation powerhouse’s SparkShorts program. Produced by indie prodco Supper Club (Chef’s Table, Jiro Dreams of Sushi) the series will track the filmmakers and films that go through the program, while exploring Pixar’s creative philosophy and community. The series will be produced by Supper Club’s Brian McGinn, Jason Sterman and David Gelb.

Unveiled January 2019, SparkShorts gives Pixar employees a limited budget and six months to create a short animated film. Some of the films to come out of the program include Purl, Loop and the 2D-animated short Kitbull, which was nominated for an Oscar for best animated short film.

The new shows were first announced at Realscreen Summit, the unscripted sister brand to Kidscreen. No release dates for any of the new titles has been announced yet.

Prior to the start of 2020, 15 of the 54 new TV shows Disney+ had commissioned were factual titles and the streamer is growing its catalogue with non-fiction programming because of its potential to reach kids and adults, according to Ampere Analysis. There are only three other competition series slated for the streamer, and these include the first Star Wars game show Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, which launches this year, cooking competition Be Our Chef and building competition Shop Class.

About The Author
Online writer for Kidscreen. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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