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Kartoon Studios working on Winnie-the-Pooh series, specials, film for Prime Video

Kartoon Studios is working on a Winnie-the-Pooh series for Amazon Prime Video channel

US-based kids’ content company Kartoon Studios is working on a 104-episode series based on classic children’s IP Winnie-the-Pooh for premiere on its Amazon Prime Video channel.

Pre-production has also begun on an animated holiday movie, which is set to premiere on Christmas Eve 2025, with five more holiday specials to follow. The animated series will roll out over four years and is being financed through US$30m of funding provided by WTP SPV 1, a subsidiary of Catalyst Venture Partners.

Kartoon Studios said it has used a mix of AI and human design to create the new look of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters and backgrounds, which are being developed with a “yarn-based” design and palette. The stories, which will be original modern stories inspired by British author AA Milne’s books from the 1920s, will be told in a “Seussian style” rhyme. AA Milne’s books were illustrated by EH Shepard.

“In designing Kartoon Studios’ Winnie-the-Pooh, we combined the best of both AI and human creativity to arrive at the unique look of the characters and backgrounds that could not have been imaginable prior to the advent of AI in our industry,” said Kartoon Studios’ chairman and CEO Andy Heyward.

“Our use of our AI platform will enable us to bring a level of efficiency, speed-to-market and creativity to the production not previously possible,” he added, referring to the AI toolkit Kartoon Studios launched earlier this year.

The toolkit, initially called Gadget AI, took its name and branding from kids’ show Inspector Gadget, which Heyward co-created back in 1983. Kartoon Studios has since had to drop the Inspector Gadget branding from the product, however, after a dispute with Canada’s WildBrain, which currently holds the rights to the IP.

The rights to Winnie-the-Pooh were exclusively held by The Walt Disney Company from the 1960s but entered the public domain in the US in 2022 after AA Milne’s US copyright to the characters expired.

Since then, US-based Baboon Animation and IQI Media have announced plans to make a feature film prequel to AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books, followed by a series spin-off, while a horror film called Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey by Jagged Edge Productions came out last year.

Disney still owns the copyright to its version of Winnie-the-Pooh and in 2022 commissioned a musical shortform adaptation for Disney Junior.

“Disney created an iconic and tremendously successful global brand with Winnie-the-Pooh that we have all admired so much over many decades. When the property went into the public domain, we knew we could only undertake creating Pooh for a new generation if we could bring a completely new, different and unique look that was contemporary, protectable and gave voice to the characters and stories created by AA Milne as has never been done,” Heyward said.

Kartoon Studios plans to build a Winnie-the-Pooh megabrand with its new version, which will include a global consumer products campaign, as well as merchandise through a nationwide retail programme in the US with Alliance Entertainment.

Heyward concluded: “Capitalising on the enormous equity inherent in AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, the unique designs and storytelling, as well as the production efficiency by harnessing AI, Kartoon Studios’ new iteration of the timeless brand will have an exceptional array of attributes that we believe can lead to extraordinary profitability for the company.”

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