HIT Entertainment has signed Toronto-based Arc Productions (formerly Starz) to animate the new season of its CG-animated preschool hit Thomas & Friends. This deal marks the first global television series the studio will produce, following a series of successful theatrical movies including Gnomeo and Juliet and 9.
Airing in over 185 territories, Thomas & Friends is been one of the top global preschool series. To date, 16 series have been produced for the brand. Toronto-based Arc will provide animation for all 11-minute episodes of the upcoming 17th season, as well as a one-hour Thomas & Friends feature-length special. The new episodes animated by Arc are set to broadcast starting in the fall of 2013.
“We are proud to be entrusted with the stellar assignment of animating the highly regarded and much loved Thomas & Friends TV series,” said Jeff Young, COO, Arc Productions. “There are successful brands, and a handful grow to be franchises. Then you have those precious few that rise to iconic stature. Thomas & Friends is certainly one of those very rare successes and we’re truly excited to perpetuate its legacy under our creative stewardship.”
Thomas first appeared in the stop-motion series created by Britt Allcroft in 1984 on ITV network in the U.K. The shorts were featured in PBS’ series Shining Time Station. In 2010, the first CG animated look for the show was unveiled for Thomas & Friends. Thomas and his engine friends began speaking in their own voices, allowing them to tell their own stories of teamwork, determination and friendship.