T’visa’s ‘Chavo’ is a barrel of laffs

Hit toon will air outside Latin America early next year

MEXICO CITY — Mexican media conglom Televisa’s first toon is a hit in Latin America, but it remains to be seen if it has global appeal.

“El chavo,” about the adventures of a homeless boy, made a rare pan-regional premiere in late October in 18 Latin American markets. Bow nabbed audience shares of more than 30% in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador and hit 45% in Venezuela on Venevision; it soon will debut in Chile and Brazil.

The company is in talks with other territories, but the toon will air outside Latin America early next year, says Claudia Silva, marketing director at web’s international sales arm Televisa Estudios.

It’s fate Stateside is still to be decided. As a co-production, it technically falls outside Televisa’s programming agreement with Univision and could be sold to rival Telemundo, as was telenovela co-production “Amor mio.”

The series is a co-production between Televisa and Roberto Gomez Bolanos, the actor who created the original live-action series “El chavo del 8.”

Toon was drafted by budding Mexican animation house Anima Estudios.

It would have been hard to misfire with the toon, given the devotion to the original series.

“El chavo del 8” has been a solid ratings winner locally and in Spain and Portugal from when it first aired in the 1970s through today in syndication.

In the original series, the then middle-aged Gomez played a homeless 8-year-old who lived in a barrel in Mexico City.

Gomez and his son, Roberto Gomez Fernandez, adapted scripts from the series, heavy on slapstick humor, for the toon.

The project has been in the works for more than eight years. Falling costs for animation finally allowed it to get under way last year.

Since its founding in 2002, Anima Estudios has become the largest toon producer in Mexico, with 18 animators producing 45 minutes per week for the series.

Anima cut its teeth on two feature toons that did modest business. PorchLight Entertainment picked up world rights this year to “Wizards and Giants” and “Imaginum.”

Studio’s third film “El agente 00P2,” about a parrot janitor at a jungle spy agency that is mistakenly sent on a mission to the North Pole, is due to be finished early next year and is being produced in English and Spanish.

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