Cartoon punches ‘Powerpuff’s’ ticket

Series' 'Movie' to premiere over Memorial Day weekend

The Cartoon Network has renewed its long-running original series “The Powerpuff Girls” for another 13 half-hour episodes.

That’s the word from Jim Samples, executive VP and general manager of Cartoon Network, who said the series not only scores with Cartoon’s viewers but harvests big bucks from the worldwide merchandising of images of the show’s four little girls with kick-ass superpowers.

Cartoon also plans to engineer a heavily promoted stunt for the feature-length, animated “Powerpuff Girls Movie,” scheduling it as a TV premiere for four consecutive nights at 8 over Memorial Day weekend (May 23-27).

Samples said Cartoon may have established a record for basic cable by getting a theatrical movie within 10 months of its debut in the multiplexes. The usual delay for basic cable is 33 months. Cartoon’s sister company Warner Bros. Pictures distributed “Powerpuff,” which kicked off in the multiplexes in July. But because Cartoon produced the movie and put up the entire $12 million budget, “Powerpuff Girls Movie” was not part of Warner Bros.’ theatrical-output deal with HBO.

“We always had it in mind to play the movie in May 2003 because of the value of an early basic cable window,” Samples said.

By contrast, all of the theatrical movies produced so far by Nickelodeon and distributed by its sister company Paramount Pictures — “Rugrats,” “Rugrats in Paris,” “Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius,” “Hey Arnold” and “Wild Thornberrys” — are part of Paramount’s pay TV output deal and will get their 18-month windows on Showtime before gravitating to a broadcast network or a basic-cable network.

Samples blames bad timing of the theatrical release for the poor box office performance of “Powerpuff,” which managed to bring in only $11.3 million in U.S. theaters.

As for future theatrical adaptations of Cartoon series, Samples said Warner Bros. is working on a live-action version of “Johnny Bravo,” and New Line, another sister company of Cartoon, is in script development on “Samurai Jack,” also live action.

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