Disney Floating New Sat. ‘Mermaid’ Skein

Walt Disney TV Animation plans to produce a Saturday-morning network tv series based on the hit animated feature “The Little Mermaid” for next fall, the studio announced.

Disney has yet to set a network deal, but the company was confident enough to announce the project.

Disney had reduced its focus on Saturday mornings to concentrate on the launch of the Disney Afternoon, the studio’s two-hour syndicated strip block. The company also produces one network children’s series, “The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh,” for ABC.

Sources said Disney also may be looking to develop additional feature properties – including “Dick Tracy” and the upcoming summer release “The Rocketeer” – as Saturday-morning series. Disney TV Animation exec v.p. Gary Krisel said while both would be extremely viable, there were no immediate plans along those lines and definitely none for next fall.

Saturday-morning series have frequently been timed to capitalize on the summer release of major features, hoping to generate heat heading into the fall. The live-action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” for example, which premiered last spring, no doubt helped the CBS version.

“The Little Mermaid” is the highest-grossing animated feature of all time, having raked in $84.4 million at the boxoffice, and was the top-selling homevideo of last year. The series would feature characters from the film – including Ariel, Sebastian, Triton and his daughters – as well as new characters.

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