Netflix and Mattel Television are producing a new original animated adventure series of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”
The CG-animated series will reimagine the Masters of the Universe classic tale with new storylines and a fresh take on the iconic characters. This marks the second collaboration between Netflix and Mattel Television, joining the previously announced 2D anime series “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” with Kevin Smith.
On the planet of Eternia, a young lost prince discovers the powers of Grayskull and transforms into He-Man, Master of the Universe. The classic battle between He-Man and evil Skeletor rages to new heights as both hero and villain forge new and mighty teams, a new generation of heroes fighting for the fate of us all.
“Masters of the Universe is one of the most iconic global franchises of all time, with a 30-year history and a passionate fan base,” said Fred Soulie, SVP of content distribution and business development, Mattel. “The entire team at Mattel is excited to introduce the world of He-Man to a new generation and, together with the talented team at Netflix, to reimagine the classic characters in a way that appeals to kids and families today, while also resonating with the fans who grew up with them.”
Mattel’s reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise also includes a comic book series by DC Comics (available now), reimagined versions of the 80s toys (hitting retail shelves in the fall of 2020) and a feature film.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment celebrated the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. (Photos by Jamie Phan)
Netflix and Nickelodeon have formed a multiyear output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series for kids and families based both on the Nickelodeon library of characters as well as new IP.
The deal is an expansion of the existing relationship between the companies, which has already brought several titles to Netflix, including animated specials Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Also forthcoming are specials based on “The Loud House” and “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” Netflix VP of original animation Melissa Cobb said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix.”
“Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal,” Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins said in a statement. “The Nickelodeon Animation Studio is home to the world-class artists and storytellers behind some of the most iconic characters and shows ever made, and our head of animation, Ramsey Naito, has been building on that legacy over the past year by ramping up development and production exponentially. The ideas and work at our Studio are flowing, and we can’t wait to work with Melissa and the Netflix team on a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world.”
Turning an online game into a movie has its challenges, but it also provides some room for creativity, said executives who have worked on the films based on the iconic web product Angry Birds.
“When you have a project based on a book or comic book series, so much of that has been defined,” said producer John Cohen. “Everything is set in a mythology, and you’re translating it into a movie and trying very hard not to veer from what’s already been created. But with Angry Birds we’ve had this amazing opportunity where not a lot had been defined.”
Cohen and co-director Johnny Rice attended a special event for the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Joining the returning cast, which includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Peter Dinklage, are Leslie Jones (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Rachel Bloom (TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Sterling K. Brown (TV’s “This Is Us”) and Eugenio Derbez (Dora and the Lost City of Gold).
In the sequel, a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger. Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad), Bomb (McBride) and Mighty Eagle (Dinklage) recruit Chuck’s sister Silver (Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely team to save their homes. Jones stars as Zeta, a new villain threatening the islands.
“We’ve got a lot of new characters; of course, the Leslie Jones Zeta character is a big new character,” said Rice. “She’s bigger than life in every way. Leslie brought a voice to the character that is just incredible. She really stands out in the movie as a huge force. And it’s kind of interesting as that’s the way our story works as well. She’s a force that comes into the world, into the birds’ world and the pigs’ world that just changes everything.”
“Our other big new character is Silver, voiced by Rachel bloom, and Silver is actually Chuck’s sister,” added Cohen. “Chuck, the Josh Gad character, is the bird who moves very fast. Everything about him is quick. He talks fast. He moves fast. And we started to ask ourselves, well, if he had a sister who shares the DNA, what would she be like? Silver’s superpower is that she thinks fast. And so she is hypersmart and is an engineering major at Avian Academy, which is the college on Bird Island. And when the birds and pigs come together in the movie and have to team up to fight these mortal enemies and for the very first time have to work together, Silver ends up as the leader of the group because she’s just the smartest and kind of the best people person.”
Because the animators are filling out the online game, “we bring our own experiences, our own life experience and attitudes into it,” said Rice. “I really connected with Red on the first one and in the second one as well, where I felt like I totally understood who he was. And the voice actors add a lot to that of course.”
Animators use the performances of the accomplished comedians who play the characters to inform the animation.
“Their comedic sensibility and their ad-libs and improvisation do so much to bring that character to life in a way that you couldn’t have even imagined,” Cohen said.
“The animators pay a lot of attention to every nuance in the voice,” Rice said.
“We film the actors to see their mannerisms. Even an eye movement or just a gesture can inform the animation of the character,” Cohen added.
The actors often recognize themselves in the animated pigs and birds that end up in the movie, Cohen said.
Bonus features on the sequel disc include a new mini movie “Live Stream,” DIY activities inspired by the film, behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew, a feature on the birds at the L.A. Zoo, and six Hatchling shorts directed by Rice.
The baby bird Hatchling characters are played by children, rather than adults using child-like voices, which brings an authentic humor to the characters, said Rice and Cohen. The child actors are encouraged to be themselves, which provides for some surprising humor.
“They do the funniest things,” Rice said.
“It’s not ad-libbing in the traditional sense,” Cohen said. “It’s more just the weird things and the surprising things that kids might say and the way in which they would say them. We love to capture real kids’ voices and that’s what’s given the Hatchlings so much charm.”
The Hatchlings in Angry Birds 2 are played by Alma Versano, daughter of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman); Genesis Tennon, daughter of actress Viola Davis; Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project); Jojo Siwa (TV’s “Dance Moms”); and Sunday and Faith, daughters of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.
“Most of them it was their first time ever acting, and they were really, really fantastic,” Cohen said.
The DreamWorks Animation film Abominable is coming out on digital Dec. 3 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Dec. 17 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
With the biggest opening for an original animated film this year, according to Universal, Abominable features the voice talents of Chloe Bennet (Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”), Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story”), Eddie Izzard (Cars 2), Tenzing Norgay Trainor (“Liv and Maddie”), Albert Tsai (“Fresh Off the Boat”), Tsai Chin (The Joy Luck Club) and Michelle Wong (“Scandal”).
The film made $166.6 million at the worldwide box office.
In the story, teenage Yi (Bennet) encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in China. She and her friends Jin (Trainor) and Peng (Tsai) name him “Everest” and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth. The trio of friends has to stay one-step ahead of Burnish (Izzard), a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara (Paulson) to help Everest get home.
WarnerMedia’s pending SVOD service HBO Max has secured streaming rights to Adult Swim’s animated series “Rick and Morty”in the United States.
All three seasons of “Rick and Morty” that have aired to date will be available to viewers on the service when HBO Max launches in the U.S. in May 2020. Future seasons of “Rick and Morty” will continue to premiere on Adult Swim before streaming on HBO Max. The fourth season premieres on Adult Swim and in several countries on Nov. 10.
The series is the winner of 2018’s Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.
“‘Rick and Morty’ exploded onto the scene in 2013 and quickly drew a legion of rabid followers from both critics and young fans,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, and president of TBS, TNT, truTV. “The jokes come fast and frenetically in a smart comedy concoction we are so happy to deliver on HBO Max.”
The series follows a sociopathic genius scientist who drags his inherently timid grandson on insanely dangerous adventures across the universe. Rick Sanchez is living with his daughter Beth’s family and constantly bringing her, his son-in-law Jerry, granddaughter Summer, and grandson Morty into intergalactic escapades.
WarnerMedia’s upcoming SVOD service HBO Max is reviving the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning animated series “Adventure Time.”
The service, which launches in spring 2020, has greenlighted four new one-hour specials titled “Adventure Time: Distant Lands” that will premiere exclusively on HBO Max, with the first two set to debut on the streamer in 2020.
These four new specials will continue the “Adventure Time” stories that introduced unlikely heroes Finn and Jake, best buds who traversed the mystical Land of Ooo and encountered its colorful inhabitants.
“The enchanted world of ‘Adventure Time’ has mesmerized viewers and critics alike as Finn and Jake right wrongs and battle evil,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “The addition of these specials to the HBO Max kids and family programming lineup is sure to make kids everywhere say ‘Slam-bam-in-a-can!’”
The first two specials, “BMO” and “Obsidian,” are set to premiere on the streamer in 2020 followed by “Wizard City” and “Together Again.” “BMO” follows the lovable little robot as there’s a deadly space emergency in the farthest reaches of the galaxy. “Obsidian” features Marceline and Princess Bubblegum as they journey to the imposing, beautiful Glass Kingdom — and deep into their tumultuous past — to prevent an earthshaking catastrophe. “Wizard City” follows Peppermint Butler, starting over at the beginning, as just another inexperienced Wizard School student as mysterious events at the campus cast suspicion on him and his checkered past. “Together Again” brings Finn and Jake together to rediscover their brotherly bond and embark on the most important adventure of their lives.
“’Adventure Time’ was a groundbreaking series and a creative playground for so many talented creative artists,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer, Cartoon Network Studios. “Producing ‘Adventure Time: Distant Lands’ for HBO Max will allow our studio to explore this beloved world in an all-new format.”
Created by Pendleton Ward and executive produced by Adam Muto, “Adventure Time” garnered numerous entertainment awards. “Adventure Time: Distant Lands” is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.
“South Park” creators and Viacom could reap between $450 million and $500 million by selling the streaming rights to the irreverent animated series, according to a Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter.
The news outlet reported that as many as a half dozen companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of the show, according to the sources.
The show has recently been available on Hulu, now controlled by Disney.
Viacom and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone hope to ink a new deal by the end of 2019 with a decision on the winner that could come as soon as this weekend, said the anonymous sources.
Past seasons of popular TV shows have been a hot commodity as the number of streaming services have proliferated, with such shows as “The Office” and “Friends” set to move from Netflix to Comcast’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, respectively, for eye-popping prices. For its part, Netflix just picked up worldwide rights for “Seinfeld” for a half billion.
“South Park” is the longest-running show on Viacom’s Comedy Central and has been renewed for another three seasons.
A limited-edition DVD collection of the first 20 seasons of “The Simpsons” is being prepped for Dec. 3 release, consisting of 441 episodes on 79 discs — for a total of 9,914 minutes of viewing time, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announced Oct. 7.
Only 1,000 copies of the massive boxed set will be produced, the Walt Disney Co.-owned studio says — and distribution will be limited to Best Buy and Amazon.com, with each getting 500 copies.
The boxed set as of Oct. 7 was not yet available on Amazon, but it appeared on Best Buy’s website at $549.99 — with financing available of $45.84/month.
“The Simpsons” is the longest-running primetime scripted show in television history, currently in its 31st season. The show has been renewed through at least season 32.
“The Simpsons” was created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Co. The animated series is a satirical depiction of blue-collar life as experienced by the dysfunctional Simpson family, who live in the fictional town of Springfield, here patriarch Homer Simpson works in a nuclear power plant.
The show began life as a series of sketches on “The Tracey Ullman Show” in April 1987. Three years later it began its long run as a half-hour primetime TV series on Fox.
The show has won 34 Emmy Awards, 34 Annie Awards, 12 Writers Guild of America Awards and seven People’s Choice Awards. “The Simpsons” was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.”