Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Nickelodeon and Netflix Sign Original Animated Film Deal

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish announced the plan, which follows Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos saying in November that his studio had a multi-picture deal with the streaming service.

As part of its strategy to generate new content for third-party digital and linear platforms, Viacom has struck a deal with Netflix to produce a pair of original animated feature films based on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Loud House.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, during Viacom’s Q1 earnings call with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday (February 5, 2019), said Viacom's Nickelodeon Studios division will produce two original animated movies for Netflix based on the hit properties. The announcement didn’t come with any details about titles, plotlines, voice casts, release dates or crews.

Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Pictured: Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and April O'Neil.

Bakish touted the movie deal as part of Nickelodeon and Viacom's broader efforts to tap into Nickelodeon's intellectual properties (IP) to continue producing new content for digital and linear platforms.

“This partnership with Netflix is part of Nickelodeon and Viacom’s broader efforts to tap into Nickelodeon’s library of culturally resonant properties and produce new content for third-party digital and linear platforms,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said during the call.

Shortly after launching its new cross-portfolio studio production business last year to license and create original first-run content for SVOD partners and other third parties, Nickelodeon inked an exclusive, multi-year partnership with Netflix on animated comedy series Pinky Malinky. Co-created and executive produced by Chris Garbutt and Rikke Asbjoern (The Amazing World of Gumball), the series launched on the streaming service in January 2019.

Then Nick cut a second deal with Netflix last September to adapt popular animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender as an exclusive reimagined live-action series that begins production this year.

The Netflix movie deal also follows Paramount last month taking The Loud House Movie off its 2020 release calendar.

The Loud House, currently in its third season, is Nickelodeon's No. 2 series among its targeted kids two to 11 demographic, behind only SpongeBob SquarePants at the network. The animated show revolves around Lincoln Loud, a boy growing up in a family with 10 sisters. The series remains groundbreaking in its introduction of the kids network’s first interracial married gay couple, Howard and Harold McBride. The GLAAD Media Awards even nominated the series for their inclusion of the characters.

Nickelodeon later this year will debut a new animated spinoff of The Loud House property, The Casagrandes.

As for Nick’s re-imagined Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this 2D-animated action-comedy series is executive produced by Ant Ward and Andy Suriano and bowed last September in the US. It is currently rolling out globally across the kids network’s channels and branded blocks in 170-plus countries and territories, and a second 26-episode season was ordered before the first season even launched. Rise finds the iconic turtle brothers Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mickey, along with their ally April O'Neil (Kat Graham), as they unlock the mystical secrets of New York City.

Bakish on the analyst call stressed the two projects were original movies, and not TV series, and billed the movies on Netflix as strong promotion that should drive viewing of the existing Nickelodeon channel offerings. He added that the deal is significant because the deal is only for films and does not involve either TV series.

"This is both incremental business and powerful promotion for these two franchises," Bakish told investors. During a Viacom earnings call in November, Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos first unveiled plans for a multi-picture deal with Netflix.

The Viacom deal contrasts with Disney and Warner Bros. pulling their movies from Netflix to service their own future streaming services.

Apart from the new Nickelodeon feature projects, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures division has also become more and more involved with Netflix on various fronts. Its produces high-profile series like 13 Reasons Why and The Haunting of Hill House, which are licensed to Netflix. The film studio last year set an overall deal with Netflix, which took root in the studio’s sale of Cloverfield Paradox to the streaming giant. Upcoming projects under the Netflix arrangement include To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has produced six feature films. The first three were released during the franchise’s early popularity, which was largely due to the hugely popular animated series, beginning with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990. Two sequels followed. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze release in 1991, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III followed in 1993.

The live-action film series was rebooted with 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was followed by the 2016 sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. A third movie is in the works.

There has been one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated feature film, 2007’s CG film TMNT. There was also one made-for-TV animated film called Turtles Forever, which saw the cast of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series teaming up with the Turtles of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and the original comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

To recap other Viacom news, the company acquired US streaming service PlutoTV last month for US$340 million. And it posted lower-than-forecasted revenue—a 1% increase to US$3.09 billion—for fiscal first quarter.

Despite the flat result and decreased advertising earnings, filmed entertainment revenue grew from US$14 million to US$621 million, largely due to strong theatrical performances for Bumblebee and Instant Family. To date, Bumblebee has grossed more than US$450 million at the box office worldwide, reinvigorating the whole Transformers franchise.

Looking ahead in 2019 and 2020, Viacom’s revitalization of Paramount Pictures will rely more heavily on upcoming kids and family films, including this March’s Wonder Park (formerly Amusement Park) from Paramount Animation. A film adaptation of Nick series Henry Danger is also in the works, as is the third movie installment of SpongeBob SquarePants, which is being overseen by the studio’s newly hired EVP, ex-DreamWorks producer Ramsey Naito.

Nickelodeon Studios is a new asset under the kids and family brand’s umbrella. Brian Robbins took the helm of Nick late last year after longtime chief Cyma Zarghami exited the company. The fortunes of Nickelodeon will help shape Viacom’s future, executives acknowledged on the earnings call. They predicted growth in the second half of fiscal 2019 under Robbins and his rebooted team.

More Nick: 2019 on Nickelodeon | New Shows, Specials, Events, Movies, Episodes, and More!

Originally published: Tuesday, February 05, 2019 at 5:54pm GMT.

Sources: Kidscreen, The Hollywood Reporter; Additional source: Anime Superhero Forum /@SweetShop209, Deadline, Decider, ComicBook, Newsarama, TheWrap, /Film.
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