Springboarding off its 2010 ratings growth across key kids and boys demos, in which series/specials Adventure Time, Dude, What Would Happen, Generator Rex and Hall of Game helped propel the network to new heights, Cartoon Network described its plans for building new global franchises today as it unveiled a broad slate of new content for 2011 at its annual Advertising Upfront presentation. Thirteen new animated series, 19 returning shows, and the network’s newest live-action scripted comedy series, Level Up, which will launch with a 90-minute original movie, will debut over the next year. The morning’s announcements also spotlighted a new partnership between Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and Cartoon Network in which the three entertainment brands would unite their powerful assets in publishing, theatrical and television to create a multi-platform block of exclusive branded original content on the network named, DC Nation.
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) CEO and Co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg also appeared to reveal development plans for the new half-hour CG-animated series based on the Oscar-nominated and hugely popular 2010 motion picture adventure, How to Train Your Dragon. Coupled with new and returning acquisitions, these projects represent Cartoon Network’s largest episodic commitment to date for new content.
“Our commitment last year to build on the volume of broad content for our audience has paid off in solid ratings growth and renewed strength among our core 6-11 audience,” said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer, Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media (AYAKM). “We now have successful new shows that we can grow into the next big franchises. By partnering with premier entertainment companies like Warner Bros., DreamWorks Animation SKG and DC Entertainment, we are laying the groundwork for even further growth and expansion opportunities across the coming year.”
“As Cartoon Network continues to strategically align great new content with exciting franchises, our ad sales team is committed to developing innovative ideas for our partners that will extend the reach of their message and brands across our linear and digital platforms,” said John O’Hara, executive vice president and general sales manager, Cartoon Network Ad Sales & Marketing. “The recent success with Hall of Game is a key example of how we collaborated with our advertising partners to develop high-profile, custom opportunities, which live across multiple viewer experience levels and delivered measurable return on their investment.”
Exclusive first looks of new original animated comedy series revealed to advertisers at Jazz at Lincoln Center included: The Problem Solverz and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, two new series from Cartoon Network Studios joining the network’s successful Monday night prime-time comedy block of quarter-hour programs Adventure Time, Regular Show and MAD which rank #1 in their timeslots across all television among kids and boys 2-11, 6-11 and 9-14; The Amazing World of Gumball, the U.S. premiere of a new international series from Cartoon Network’s U.K. production studio; and The Looney Tunes Show, an all-new series in the tradition of classic theatrical shorts from Warner Bros. Animation. Sneak peeks of new animated action-adventure series included a new version of the global hit franchise Ben 10; an all-new remake of the action series ThunderCats from Warner Bros.; and a CG-animated follow-up to this summer’s highly-anticipated action movie starring Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
Cartoon Network also debuted what will be its newest venture into live-action scripted comedy with the series Level Up, a fantastical comedy for the video game age. The show will launch as a 90-minute movie event in late fall and serve as a platform to promote the new half-hour series scheduled for spring 2012. Level Up is created and written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman (both credited for Chasing Liberty). The series will be executive produced by Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place, Hope and Faith). The movie is directed and executive produced by Peter Lauer (Sons Of Tuscon, Chuck).
“Over the last year, the most notable growth at Cartoon Network has been driven by prime-time comedy programs,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network. “This season, we’ll build upon that momentum by amping up the funny across all formats and debuting an array of wonderfully unique animated and live-action series.”
Debuting in 2012 as a multi-platform franchise, DC Nation will be the exclusive home for original DC animation properties. Backed by the production, publishing and marketing resources of Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and Cartoon Network, DC Nation will be an on-air and online programming block populated with event programming, interstitials, exclusive behind-the-scenes of theatrical production and an insider look into the world of all things DC.
“DC Nation on Cartoon Network will be the first-ever dedicated broadcast destination to showcase the depth and breadth of the DC Universe,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “We and our partners at WBTV are thrilled that fans will be able to immerse themselves in DC’s phenomenal stories, experience a wide spectrum of amazing characters and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings of the world’s greatest superheroes and their creators, both on-air and online.”
Underscoring the point of great franchises was Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of DreamWorks Animation SKG, who discussed how his team was planning to bring the global smash hit How to Train Your Dragon, which grossed $500+ million at the worldwide box-office, to Cartoon Network via an all-new weekly CG-animated series.
“DreamWorks Animation recognizes the importance of building brands around great franchises, so you can imagine how thrilled we are to be joining forces with Cartoon Network to bring our newest franchise – How to Train Your Dragon – to television audiences around the world,” said Katzenberg. “Today’s presentation marks an exciting new beginning for our company and reaffirms our goal to ensure that How to Train Your Dragon has the ideal home, which we have found in Cartoon Network.”
Additional programming announcements from the network included a fourth season renewal for the LucasFilm Animation Ltd. CG-animated juggernaut, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which continued to significantly grow key kids and boys demos throughout its third season. Also coming next year is a fourth season of the animated comedy reality show franchise, Total Drama. In this new iteration, the competition returns to its roots with Total Drama: Revenge of the Island.
Further highlights of Cartoon Network’s newly announced content slated for launch across the 2011-2012 season include the following:
• The Problem Solverz:
Created by celebrated artist Ben Jones, The Problem Solverz presents a fresh, distinctive visual style and tone in a new series that follows three crazy young dudes, Horace, Roba and Alfe, the proprietors of an unorthodox detective agency dedicated to solving the mysteries of the universe, one case at a time. Slated to premiere Monday, April 4, at 8:45 p.m. (ET/PT).
• Secret Mountain Fort Awesome:
From Pete Browngardt (Chowder), Cartoon Network Studios presents a hilarious new comedy about a mega-rad group of monsters that live underground and do crazy awesome stuff like steal the sun, fight CGI-sharks, and get their butts kicked by a velociraptor. Plus they wrestle! See, it’s awesome, right? But remember, it’s a secret. Shh!...premiering this summer.
• The Amazing World of Gumball:
Dad is a 6’4" pink rabbit who stays home while Mom works in the rainbow factory. Their children include Gumball, a blue cat with a giant head; Anais, a 4-year-old genius bunny; and Darwin, a pet goldfish who became part of the family when he sprouted legs. The eye-catching animated series combines 2D and 3D animation techniques in a live-action setting and originates from Cartoon Network UK. The Amazing World of Gumball premieres Monday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
• The Looney Tunes Show:
Screen icons Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are back, starring in an all-new modern comedy series from Warner Bros. Animation featuring all of the favorite Looney Tunes characters—Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Sylvester, Granny, Gossamer, Lola and Tina, Daffy’s new no-nonsense girlfriend. Fresh designs coupled with a vivid, contemporary animation style enhance the timeless wit and charm that make these classic characters so beloved around the world. The Looney Tunes Show will premiere on Tuesday, May 3, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).
• Level Up:
After high schoolers Wyatt (Gaelan Connell), Lyle (Jessie T. Usher), Dante (Connor del Rio) and Angie (Aimee Carrero) unwittingly open a portal from a video game into the real world, characters from the game and internet start leaking into the real world. The group now finds themselves balancing their everyday lives with the extraordinary things that show up in their town. Level Up is created and written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman (both credited for Chasing Liberty) and executive produced by Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place, Hope and Faith).
• New Ben 10 Series [Title TBD]:
Ben 10 has been one of Cartoon Network’s most successful original series since first premiering on the network in January 2006. The franchise has since spawned four animated series, one animated movie, two live-action movies, a widely-popular consumer products line and has captured the imaginations of viewers on a global scale.
The re-imagined animated series based on the beloved 80s classic tells the tale of a hero’s epic journey to fulfill his ultimate destiny. On Third Earth, the kingdom of Thundera is being threatened by the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra and young heir to the throne Lion-O embarks on a great quest to take his rightful place as king. The unlikely champion, joined by his faithful comrades Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKit, WilyKat and his loyal pet Snarf, must work together to save their world from darkness.
• Green Lantern: The Animated Series:
Based upon the DC Comics super hero, the series is an all-new CG animated action series from Warner Bros. As Earth’s Green Lantern, Hal Jordan is used to being in dangerous situations—but he’s never faced anything like this! Set at the farthest reaches of deep space, Hal must face down an invasion from the Red Lantern Corps. Hal is soon joined by an all-new group of heroes on a mission to protect Guardian Space —and the Green Lantern Corps itself!
• DC Nation:
A multi-platform, branded block of original programming and exclusive content based on the DC Comics library of legendary character properties, DC Nation is developed in partnership with Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. The all-new venture will harness the publishing, theatrical and television assets together for one powerful on-air block on Cartoon Network with exclusive online content.
• How to Train Your Dragon:
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, DreamWorks Animation’s new series rolls fire-breathing action, epic adventure and laughs into a captivating and original story. Hiccup is a young Viking who defies tradition when he befriends one of his deadliest foes—a ferocious dragon he calls Toothless. Together, the unlikely heroes must fight against all odds to save both of their worlds.
• Total Drama: Revenge of the Island:
It’s back to the island where Total Drama began for an all-new season with an all-new cast! Since Chris took the show worldwide, Camp Wawanakwa has been abandoned and turned into a toxic nuclear waste dump—the perfect place for a new season of painful, cringe-inducing challenges! Fighting for the million dollar prize are thirteen wild new players.
• RedaKai: Conquer the Kairu:
An animated kids adventure series stars Ky, a 15-year-old student of ancient martial arts who embarks on an incredible quest to find the Kairu, a primordial alien energy force. Helped by his friends Maya and Boomer, Ky travels the globe looking for the Kairu to protect it from his extraterrestrial teenage opponents, with the hope that one day he will become the greatest Kairu warrior of them all–a Redakai.
• Lego Ninjago:
After a time of peace in Ninjago, our four Ninja heroes are about to face a new dangerous enemy. Lloyd Garmadon, son of their archenemy Lord Garmadon, has unleashed a new evil with unique powers. Soon his ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps has put all of Ninjago in jeopardy.
SPECIALS AND MOVIES
• Level Up:
The 90-minute movie pilot will introduce audiences to three high school gamers, Wyatt (Gaelan Connell), Lyle (Jessie T. Usher) and Dante (Connor del Rio) who unwittingly open a portal from an online game into the real world. The trio must put aside their social differences and join forces with classmate Angie (Aimee Carrero) in order to play the game for real and defeat evil. Created and written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman (both credited for Chasing Liberty), the Level Up movie is directed by Peter Lauer (Sons Of Tuscon, Chuck) and will premiere in fall 2011.
• Cartoon Network HALL OF GAME Awards:
Hall of Game is Cartoon Network’s signature venture into the broadcast awards arena, created and produced in association with IMG Media, the production arm of global sports, entertainment and media company, IMG. This high-energy, multi-platform experience lets viewers decide who’s got game, by honoring their favorite sports stars and sports moments of the year. From the red carpet, to the never-before-seen stunts and surprises on stage, this unconventional celebration in 2012 will be led by a celebrity host and feature icons from television, film, music and sports, as kids experience an evening of humor and fun at the most raucous and biggest sports awards show ever presented on television.
• Adventure Time
• Regular Show
• Dude, What Would Happen
• Destroy Build Destroy
• Hole in the Wall
• Star Wars: The Clone Wars
• Generator Rex
• Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
• Young Justice
• Batman: The Brave and the Bold
• Scooby-Doo, Mystery Inc.
• Casper’s Scare School
• The Garfield Show
• Hero 108
• Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5
• Johnny Test
Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com), currently seen in more than 99 million U.S. homes and 166 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service now available in HD offering the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families. Nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET, PT), Cartoon Network shares its channel space with Adult Swim, a late-night destination showcasing original and acquired animated and live-action comedy programming for young adults 18-34.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.