Hit streamer Disney+ confirmed plans for a major expansion of its global service area this summer, bringing exclusive original content and thousands of titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and more to 42 countries and 11 new territories. Debut dates are to be announced. New countries and territories include (in alphabetical order):
- Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine Territories, Poland, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vatican City and Yemen.
- Faroe Islands (Denmark), French Polynesia (French Southern Territories), St. Pierre and Miquelon Overseas Collective (France), Åland Islands (Finland), Sint Maarten (Netherlands), Svalbard & Jan Mayen (Norway); British Indian Ocean Territory, Gibraltar, Pitcairn Islands and St. Helena (United Kingdom).
BC-based audio and creative agency KfAudio is stepping up its toon game by kicking off pre-production on original adult animated concept, Saxon Jackson. The five-minute episodes will follow the misadventures of a modern day average guy who gets thrown back to the viking days of 900 AD. A trailer is in the works, to be released in May.
“Our goal is to make this so funny, you’ll never watch another cat video again,” says Saxon Jackson creator and designer Kirk Furniss. The audio veteran has a long list of credits as a sound designer and FX editor for animation, including upcoming Disney Junior series Alice’s Wonderland Bakery, the new Johnny Test for Netflix, Carmen Sandiego, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Kid vs. Kat and Class of the Titans.
For young audiences, a new furry friend is hopping to Cartoonito on HBO Max on Thursday, February 24, expanding the U.S. pawprint of U.K. pre-k hit Bing. A brand-new, bespoke American version of Acamar Films‘ award-winning show made its U.S. debut on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network in September. Since then, six episodes have been running each weekday. Now, Bing will be available to 45 million streaming subscribers.
Produced by Acamar Films, with Dublin-based studio Brown Bag Films, Bing has seen extraordinary success since it launched in the U.K. in 2014, winning the International Emmy for Best Children’s Program, the Writer’s Guild Award for best writing in a children’s program and a BAFTA nomination for best children’s program. Adapted from the original books by Ted Dewan, Bing celebrates the joyful, messy reality of preschool life and finds the big stories in the little moments. Bing is broadcast in 130 territories worldwide and continues to “move and delight” Bingsters and their grown-ups through an increasing range of award-winning films, books, magazines, apps, consumer products, digital, live shows and cinema experiences.
Gruppo Alcuni is introducing youngsters to a new pair of comical pals, with its latest digital 2D animated series Vlady & Mirò premiering in Italy. Co-produced with Rai Ragazzi with the support of the Veneto Region’s POR FESR, the 26 x 5′ slapstick series has already launched on Rai Play VOD and will make its broadcast debut on Rai YoYo in early February.
Vlady & Mirò is set deep in the Dolomite mountains, and revolves around Mirò the raccoon’s desperately wacky and hilariously disastrous attempts to get his roommate, Vlady the bear, to stop his incessant snoring during winter hibernation. “The plot is straightforward and classic, with all the absurdities and gags at the core of pure ‘slapstick’. Which, by the way, comes from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte traditional wooden clapper, the ‘batacchio,’” notes producer Francesco Manfio.
The fandom community had several pieces of good news this week — and even though the projects aren’t animated, our nerdy little hearts can’t resist spreading the word. (Plus, there’s bound to be some fab VFX work involved.)
- Mattel and Netflix are developing iconic 1980s franchise Masters of the Universe into a live-action motion picture, expected to begin production in summer 2022. The Nee Brothers (The Lost City,) co-direct from a screenplay written by the Nees and David Callaham (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). Rising talent Kyle Allen (West Side Story) will star as Prince Adam/He-Man. In Masters of the Universe, the orphaned Adam discovers he is a prince destined to be the savior of a faraway land and must quickly learn of his power and the importance of saving his true home from an evil force.
- Peacock made a straight-to-series order for supernatural drama series Dead Day from Universal Television, based on the bestselling AfterShock comic-book series created by Ryan Parrott, from The Vampire Diaries producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, who will serve as co-showrunners, writers and executive producers. The story follows an ensemble of characters as they navigate the annual “dead day,” when for one night the dead come back to complete unfinished business — be that to celebrate a night back on Earth or to torment the living.
- Apple TV+ announced a series order for a new original live-action series from Legendary’s Monsterverse franchise. Following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking new reality that monsters are real, the series explores one family’s journey to uncover its buried secrets and a legacy linking them to the secret organization known as Monarch. The untitled series is created by co-exec producers Chris Black (Star Trek: Enterprise), also showrunner, and Matt Fraction (Hawkeye). Safehouse Pictures and Toho Co., owner of Godzilla, are also on board.
More new deals and expansions:
- Genius Brands International is launching its flagship animated children’s series, Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, exec produced by and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, across China on Alibaba Group’s streamer Youku, starting March 2022, and the Tudou and Kumiao apps.
- Kids’ action-adventure series Blazing Team: Masters of Yo Kwon Do is making its digital premiere on Voot Kids in India. The show is produced by Alpha Group and Guangdong Alpha Animation & Culture in China.
- Moonbug Entertainment (CoComelon, Little Baby Bum) continues to grow in APAC by launching its first linear Moonbug Kids channel in Malaysia, in partnership with Astro, on February 1. Additional content will be available On Demand and via Astro GO.
- NBCUniversal‘s Peacock platform continues its European rollout with Sky, arriving on Sky Q and Sky Ticket in Germany as well as Sky X in Austria.
- Cinedigm is partnering with Nreal to bring its specialty channels Bloody Disgusting TV, Realmadrid TV and CONtv to its new AR “TV” app.