ANNECY, France — Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney Channel France, Disney Channels EMEA used France’s Annecy Festival to unveil three brand new series: Disney heritage series “101 Dalmatian Street,” as well as “Gigantosaurus” and “Space Chickens In Space.”
A showcase for Disney’s commitment to European animation, where, since it does not have a studio, it partners with independent production houses, the Tuesday evening presentation played to a large audience. It also included a sneak peek of Disney XD’s new and highly-anticipated “DuckTales,” previewing one of the shorts which will appear across all of Disney’s platforms.
Disney announcements also took in recommissions on two iconic recent hits: “PJ Masks” and “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.”
Outlining content across the Disney Channels portfolio, available in 117 countries and nearly 159 million households in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the Disney TV animation presentation was made by Hélène Etzi, SVP and general manager; Disney Channels EMEA, Eric Coleman, SVP original programming and general manager, Disney Television Animation, who will deliver a keynote at Annecy on June 14; and Orion Ross, VP head of animation, digital and acquisitions. Disney Channels EMEA.
One of the big new announcements on Tuesday, and set to roll out around the world from the end of 2018, “101 Dalmatian Street” is inspired by Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel and Walt Disney’s 1961 “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” But it is has been updated and moved to contemporary London, based on a pitch by Anttu Harlin and Joonas Utti from Finnish studio Gigglebug Entertainment, and developed by Disney’s original animation team in London with Oscar and BAFTA winning Passion Animation Studios, the series is written by Maria O’Loughlin and directed by Miklos Weigert. It depicts the adventures of eldest dalmatian siblings Dylan and Dolly, parents Doug and Delilah, and 97 younger puppies, all with names beginning with “D,” who live all by themselves at the titular address. London’s Passion Animation Studios will lead-produce. Maria O’Loughlin writes, Miklos Weigert directs.
Ross showed a first-look development trailer, created by Passion.
“This teaser is the biggest, messiest family comedy you could imagine,” he said. Narrated byDolly, interrupted by Dylan, it showed the parents at their job – dad dalmatian works as firefighter – Dolly and Dylan running the house in their absence, and having fun on the London Eye. Animation looked fast-paced, eye-popping in color and kinetic, featuring knockabout (canine) family fun.
Produced by France’s Cyber Group Studios, directed by Olivier Lelardoux and pre-sold to France Televisions and Super RTL, two of Europe’s biggest broadcast player in the animation business, “Gigantosaurus” will hit Disney Junior worldwide in 2019. Based on British author-illustrator Johnny Duddle’s book, it turns on four young dino friends fascinated by the figure of the Gigantosaurus, the biggest and fiercest dinosaur anybody has ever seen. But the young dinos end up learning lessons from Gigantosaurus, Ross said.
Directed by Norwegian twins Tommy and Markus Vad Flaaten (aka “Twintrash”), “Space Chickens in Space” tells the story of a trio of chickens mistakenly enrolled in an elite inter-galactic academy. Created by José C. García de Letona and Rita Street, with Jordan Gaucher serving as showrunner, “Space Chickens in Space” has been commissioned by Channel 9 Australia and Disney XD EMEA for a season of 52 11-minute episodes. Anima Estudios, Cake, Studio Moshi and Gingerbread co-produce. It will debut in 2018.
The Flatten twins introduced the series via a mock YouTube vid, one playing the ocarina, another describing the series as a “surreal space comedy.”
Outlining content across the Disney Channels portfolio, available in 117 countries and nearly 159 million households in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said Etzi, one goal of the presentation was to emphasize how Disney has ramped up production.
“We have increased production greatly. Disney Television Animation currently has 15 series on Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD,” Coleman commented, reviewing new U.S. which will be seen in Europe.
According to Ross, Disney Channels in Europe, Middle East and Africa now has 11 series greenlit and currently in production and 300-plus half-hours of original animation set to deliver over the next two years.
“The TV world is evolving, it’s boosted by tech, but more fragmented, tons of content is available anytime, anywhere. This creates a new situation in terms of competition, “ Etzi said.
“Although TV will remain central to audiovisual viewing, it seems very clear our ecosystem is becoming larger, broader and more complex than in the past. This is a wonderful opportunity for Disney,” Etzi argued.
Maybe the biggest attraction on Tuesday evening, at least for millennials in the audience, was a teaser of Disney upcoming reboot of “DuckTales,” presented by Coleman.
“Like the beloved ‘90s series, this has lots of adventure but we focus on the family. We now see the boys as three separate characters and Webby has a bigger role,” Coleman said.
He added: “We will feature a lot more of Donald Duck. We have a fantastic cast, led by David Tennant; all of the characters will return.”
Coleman screened a trailer released in March, but then followed up with one of a series of animated shorts which accompany the series. It showed a typical day at Scrouge McDuck’s mansion, with the kids, chased by a ghost, creating havoc as an unperturbed maid goes about her chores in the foreground. She end up changing a switch from “dust” to “ghost” and vacuuming up the ghost.
Ross also announced recommissions for two top-performing series, “PJ Masks” and “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.” Global Disney Junior hit “PJ Masks” will return for a second season of 52 episodes in 2018; a third season is in development with producers eOne and Frogbox, the animation company TeamTO, and commissioning partner France Television.
“Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir” has been picked up for both a second and third season by Disney Channel EMEA, alongside commissioning partner TF1, bringing the total volume to 78 half-hour episodes from producers Method Animation and Zag Toon, Ross added.