Warnermedia Kids and Family has come up with a multi-pronged approach to take on Netflix, Disney, Youtube, and Nickelodeon in the highly competitive kids’ space.
Starting later this year, more than 300 hours of original series, specials, and acquisitions, will debut on its Cartoon Network channel and streaming service HBO Max, the latter of which will launch an ad-supported service tier in the summer. The new line-up was announced this morning at a virtual upfront for advertisers, and notably, it’s targeted across all children’s age groups including preschoolers, ages 6-11, and family co-viewing.
The output from Warnermedia offers plenty of new takes on their extensive back catalog of IP from both Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network (such as Ben 10 specials, a Gumball movie, and preschool versions of Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes) as well as licensed acquisitions.
The centerpiece of its Kids & Family division is Cartoon Network, which unveiled a tagline today: “Redraw Your World.” This newly-defined mission aims “to empower kids to feel comfortable with who they are, embrace their uniqueness and believe in their own ability to impact change.” Largely inspired by the success of Steven Universe, this new mantra represents a significant evolution for Cartoon Network, which has transformed from a pure entertainment brand into a mission-driven platform for children. Hints of this new direction have been evident for the last year, such as the network’s series of PSAs about systemic racism.
As part of that new mission, Cartoon Network will launch a new preschool programming block this fall, Cartoonito, which will be available on both its cable channel and HBO Max. (The name is borrowed from Warnermedia’s long-running preschool channel in the U.K.) The Cartoonito block will have 20 new series available at launch, with an aim to grow to 50 shows within its first two years. This is in addition to the thousands of hours of legacy shows and global acquisitions.
The block is said to be based on “Humancentric Learning,” a proprietary preschool educational framework developed by the network. “Cartoonito is designed to be a thoroughly modern preschool brand, both by leaning into our iconic content and by inviting fresh new voices in. We’ll make high-quality, authentic stories that kids and parents can enjoy together,” said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming, Warner Bros. “Grounding everything we do in Humancentric Learning will ensure that kids embrace and celebrate their differences and everyone else’s.”
Below is a list of all the titles presented at today’s press event:
New Series Greenlights Aimed at Kids and Families
Three 44-minute specials based on the Cartoon Network series Ben 10 are set to premiere in April 2021 and will be produced by Man of Action (Big Hero 6: The Series,Generator Rex). The first, Ben 10010, takes place in the future when a disillusioned Ben 10000 is called out of retirement to recruit his 10-year-old version from the past to work together to save a future under siege. The second special, Ben Gen 10 follows Ben as he meets a young Generator Rex on the run from a hostile Providence working through a series of misunderstandings in order to save the world from being infected with alien DNA. In the final installment, Alien X-Tinction, the Tennysons are attacked by a villainous, dimension-hopping Omni-alien, and soon meet a parallel universe version of Max who opens the door to hosting multiple Bens and Gwens, forming an alien hero army to combat this threat.
Here are the existing Cartoon Network Studios shows that are receiving renewals: Victor and Valentino (third season), Craig of the Creek (fourth season), and Infinity Train (fourth season).
The animated prequel Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai is getting a season two greenlight, doubling down on the yet-to-be aired series from Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. The first season is currently in production.
In production with TeamTO and featuring an all-female creative team, Jade Amor centers around the martial arts-loving Lan Jun, an unlikely teenage heroine who must learn the ancient secrets of her family and uncover the unexpected, all while navigating life as a teen.
Total Drama Island, the animated series about a reality show, is back with two new seasons. With no parents, no phones, and no mercy, the new animated series will introduce an updated cast of quirky, iconic teen contestants as they face hardcore competition, brutal eliminations, and more drama than ever before. Total Drama Island is produced by Fresh TV for Cartoon Network and HBO Max, and distributed internationally by Cake.
New Projects in Development Aimed at Kids and Families
Produced out of Europe, The Amazing World of Gumball Movie (working title), is an upcoming tv movie based on the hit show of the same name, which follows the hilarious misadventures of Gumball Watterson and his goldfish best friend, Darwin.
Family Mash-Up (working title) is described as a modern day The Brady Bunch meets Pitch Perfect when a single mom and three sons and a single dad with three daughters fall in love and get married despite their kids being in two fiercely competing acapella groups. The music-filled live-action comedy is created by Michael Poryes (Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven).
From Cartoon Network Studios with producers Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Naomi Scott (Other People) alongside creators Daniela Hamilton and Scott Yacyshyn, Gross Girls is an animated comedy about Chuck and Zoey. Per the synopsis, they are, “Two best friends trying to survive middle school without losing any of their trademark stinky, hairy, mad science-y grossness. In spite of jerky brothers, judgey classmates, and ‘common decency,’ these two girls boost each other up and encourage each other to be 100% themselves. Because with the right best friend, everything is an adventure…even puberty.”
Teen Titans Go! The Night Begins to Shine is a spin-off series of the Cartoon Network smash hit Teen Titans Go!. Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire journey back to the world of Night Begins to Shine – a world introduced in fan-favorite episode from season three – when the musical land falls victim to a sinister new threat. Together the Titans must protect the only key to the world’s salvation, a magical mixtape. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
Tweety Mysteries (working title) is a hybrid live-action/animated adventure from Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Television that follows a curious tween investigative journalist and podcaster named Sydney and her sidekick Tweety bird. Working together the pair must solve various local mysteries in their small, quirky Washington state town.
New Series Greenlights for Cartoonito
Debuting on HBO Max, Sesame Workshop’s newest animated preschool comedy series Bea’s Block draws on the ubiquity of block toys to bring the vibrant, diverse neighborhood of Blocktown to life. The show centers on bold and curious 5-year-old Bea as she and her friends spread kindness and build empathy through playful adventures in their community. This joins an already abundant portfolio of Sesame Workshop series on the platform, including its flagship show Sesame Street and spinoff The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo, as well as Esme & Roy.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Bugs Bunny Builders (working title) brings Looney TUnes to a new preschool audience. At Acme Construction Company, Bugs Bunny and Lola Bunny manage a crew of builders that includes Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety, and others.
New Projects in Development for Cartoonito
From Cartoon Network Studios, Jessica’s Big Little World (working title) is a spin-off of Cartoon Network original Craig of the Creek. The show follows Craig’s bright, independent, spirited little sister, Jessica as the Creek’s favorite first-grader embarks on adventures of her own. The series is created by Craig of the Creek executive producers and creators Matt Burnett and Ben Levin, and supervising director, Tiffany Ford.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Tom and Jerry Junior (working title) is a series of animated musical shorts introducing the beloved cat and mouse duo to preschoolers with an educational twist. Classic Tom and Jerry hijinks – chasing, pranking, outsmarting each other – set are combined with a core learning curriculum, based in education and essential readiness research.
Newly Acquired and Co-Produced Series for Cartoonito
Produced by 9 Story’s award-winning studio Brown Bag Films, Ladybird Lu explores everyday dramas in the world of a three-year-old with a brand-new social life. The new series is created and directed by Nicky Phelan (Vampirina, Octonauts) and inspired by his mother’s experience running a preschool.
Mush-Mush & the Mushables – produced by France’s La Cabane and Belgium’s Thuristar in coproduction with Cake – follows the adventures of fungi in Mushworld as each Mushable gets to know their talents and their limits. Produced by Perrine Gauthier, the series is created by Elfriede de Rooster and directed by Joeri Christiaen.
From Mattel Television, Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go is a 2d animated series produced in partnership with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio. The show features a core cast of five young engines – Thomas, his best friend Percy, rival Diesel, the adventurous world traveler Nia, and an all-new electric high-speed rail train, Kana.
Previously announced preschool greenlights that will join Cartoonito’s programming line-up include Mecha Builders (HBO Max only), Batwheels from Warner Bros. Animation, the 2d animated series Little Ellen from Ellen Digital Ventures and Warner Bros. Animation, the Youtube-inspired cg series Lucas the Spider from Fresh TV in association with Wexworks Media, and a collection of projects with children’s book author Mo Willems.