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WarnerMedia makes kids and family push

New series Jade Armor comes from France’s TeamTO

WarnerMedia has greenlit hundreds of hours of original live-action and animated programming for Cartoon Network, Cartoonito and HBO Max as it expands its offer for preschoolers, kids and families.

Three hundred hours of new content, spanning original series, specials and acquisitions, will debut on WarnerMedia’s global Cartoon Network channels, its fledgling streaming service HBO Max and a preschool programming block, beginning later this year.

With Cartoon Network chosen as the central kids’ and family brand within WarnerMedia, the US media giant is targeting preschoolers, kids aged six to 11 and co-viewing families.

The new programming will sit alongside 3,000 hours of library content on HBO Max, which initially launched in the US in May 2020 and is scheduled to expand into Latin America and the Caribbean in June.

Among the new titles are Jade Armor, which comes from France’s TeamTO and features an all-female creative team, with the story following a martial arts-loving teenage heroine who must learn the ancient secrets of her family while navigating life as a teen.

WarnerMedia has taken broadcast, digital and licensing rights to the animated action comedy in the US and Latin America, where it is set to debut in early 2022, having been greenlit by France Télévisions and Super RTL in Germany last year. The show is based on a concept by M Pongo Kuo.

Alongside three 44-minute Ben 10 specials produced by Man of Action, new episodes of Craig of the Creek and Total Drama Island, produced by Fresh TV and distributed internationally by Cake, are in the pipeline.

WarnerMedia has also greenlit season two of Gremlins, its animated prequel to the film franchise, prior to its launch on HBO Max. From Warner Bros Animation and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, the first season, Gremlins: The Secrets of the Mogwai, is currently in production.

Infinity Train: Book Four, meanwhile, comes from Owen Dennis and is produced by Cartoon Network Studios, which is also producing a third season of Victor & Valentino, created by Diego Molano.

Other projects in development for children and families include The Amazing World of Gumball Movie (working title), produced in EMEA and based on the hit Cartoon Network series.

Family Mash-Up (w/t) is described as a modern-day The Brady Bunch meets Pitch Perfect. It follows a single mom and three sons and a single dad with three daughters who fall in love and get married despite their kids being in two fiercely competing acapella groups. The music-filled live-action comedy has been created by Michael Poryes (Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven).

Gross Girls comes from Cartoon Network Studios. The show is produced by Parks & Recreation star Adam Scott and his wife Naomi Scott (Other People) alongside creators Daniela Hamilton and Scott Yacyshyn.

It is described as a smart, sophisticated animated comedy about two best friends “trying to survive middle school without losing any of their trademark stinky, hairy, mad science-y grossness.”

Warner Bros Animation (WBA) is working on another spin-off from Teen Titans Go! in the shape of Teen Titans Go! The Night Begins to Shine, while Tweety Mysteries (w/t) is a hybrid live-action/animated adventure from WBA and Warner Bros Television.

It follows a curious tween investigative journalist and podcaster and her sidekick, Tweety Bird, who work together to solve various local mysteries in their small, quirky Washington State town.

Mush-Mush & the Mushables

Meanwhile, Cartoon Network has been given a new tagline, “redraw your world,” which is aimed at “empowering kids to feel comfortable with who they are, embrace their uniqueness and believe in their own ability to impact change.”

In line with this, the network has inked its first “musician in residence” deal with 10-year-old viral music star Nandi Bushell to create multiplatform content.

Preschool programming block Cartoonito will launch this fall on Carton Network and HBO Max, with the brand set to add nearly 50 new animated and live-action shows within its first two years, targeting girls and family co-viewing.

Based on the proprietary preschool educational framework of “humancentric learning,” the block will feature Bugs Bunny Builders (w/t), produced by WBA, and Bea’s Block, an animated preschool comedy series from Sesame Workshop.

New projects in development for Cartoonito include Jessica’s Big Little World (w/t), a spin-off from Cartoon Network Studios series Craig of the Creek. The show has been created by the latter’s executive producers and creators Matt Burnett and Ben Levin alongside supervising director Tiffany Ford.

Tom & Jerry Junior (w/t), meanwhile, comes from WBA and is a series of animated musical shorts introducing the cat and mouse duo to preschoolers with an educational twist.

Newly acquired and coproduced series for Cartoonito include Ladybird Lu, produced by 9 Story’s studio Brown Bag Films, which explores everyday dramas in the world of a three-year-old with a new social life. It is directed by creator Nicky Phelan (Vampirina, Octonauts) and has been inspired by his mother’s experience running a preschool.

Mush-Mush & the Mushables is made by France’s La Cabane and Belgium’s Thuristar in coproduction with Cake in the UK and follows an endearing community as they embark on a journey to put the fun back into fungi. Created by Elfriede de Rooster, the show is produced by Perrine Gauthier and directed by Joeri Christiaen.

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go comes from Mattel Television and is produced in 2D animation in partnership with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio.

“Cartoonito is our biggest commitment to preschool programming in 100 years. Our educational philosophy, coupled with the incredible calibre of innovative, educational content that will comprise this offering, is second to none,” said Tom Ascheim, president of global kids, young adults and classics at Warner Bros.

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