Straffi’s animation firm crosses borders

Rainbow targets tweens with the Winx, others

Six trendy teenage fairies collectively called the Winx, created by Italo animation mogul Iginio Straffi, have been busy fluttering their wings over the past four years bewitching millions of tween girls in more than 130 countries.

In the U.S. the MTV-generation pixies air on FoxBox and Cartoon Network.

Now the former comicbook artist, dubbed “Italy’s Walt Disney” by the local press, is spawning more seductive kiddie concoctions, for small- and bigscreen distribution, with the ambition of sparring with kiddie fare churned out by the likes of Disney and Nickelodeon.

Straffi, 41, whose Rainbow Studio is located in the small central Italian city of Loreto, has certainly capitalized on his Winx near-miracle. A global Winx Club franchise, comprising dolls, books and clothing, is going gangbusters with Winx dolls outselling Barbie in Italy. A CGI feature “Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom” has been released to solid returns in 20 territories, and counting. The pic pulled $6 million in Italy and more than $5 million in France and Germany.

“Believe in yourself, that’s how it starts” goes the Winx Club theme song. Banal as it may sound, the words suit Straffi to a T.

“Obviously it’s not easy to make it in the global entertainment industry starting out in a small Italian town in the Marches,” says Straffi, referring to his native region on the Adriatic coast. “Many doors were slammed shut in our faces out of mere mistrust toward an Italian animation company.”

But molto brainstorming in Loreto put Straffi in synch with the pulse of young contempo auds around the planet.

Having spotted a market gap in girls’ TV toons on which buyers and licensers had gone cold, Straffi recruited fashion designers and in 2004 made the Winx a cross between the Spice Girls and Harry Potter, with an anime vibe.

“The trademark Rainbow style is a mix of Japanese manga and classic Western animation,” he says.

Since 2005 Rainbow revenues have more than quadrupled to an estimated $69 million for fiscal 2008, and a whopping $44 million net profit.

Late last year Rainbow opened an outpost in Singapore to maximize its vidgame biz and has just forged a distribution pact with Barcelona-based Motion Pictures for Spanish-language distribution.

Presently in the Rainbow pipeline is boy-skewed series “Huntik Secrets & Seekers,” which has been playing since January on the CW network, a new Winx feature for release this year, and “Versus Roma” a goofy gladiator toon for 2010 “with which we will really be entering the majors’ playing field,” Straffi predicts.

More TV

  • Charles Levin Obit

    Missing 'Seinfeld' Actor Charles Levin's Body Believed to be Found

    Oregon authorities believe they have found the body of the missing “Seinfeld” actor Charles Levin. He was 70 years old. According to Associated Press, Levin’s son reported the actor missing from Grants Pass on July 8. On July 12, search and rescue teams determined a search area in a remote area northeast of Selma with [...]

  • Oliver Jackson-Cohen Invisible Man

    ‘Haunting of Hill House’ Star Oliver Jackson-Cohen Returning for ‘Haunting of Bly Manor’

    Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who was recently cast as the titular character in the upcoming Blumhouse-Universal Pictures feature “The Invisible Man,” is set to haunt viewers once more on Netflix. Jackson-Cohen, who starred in “The Haunting of Hill House,” will return to star in the second installment of the Netflix anthology series, titled “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” [...]

  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

    Amazon to Develop 'Jack Reacher' Series

    Watch out Tom Cruise, there’s going to be another Jack Reacher in town. In a competitive situation, Amazon has won the rights to develop a series based on the protagonist from Lee Child’s novels. The series hails from “Scorpion” creator Nick Santora, who will write, showrun and executive produce. Child’s “Jack Reacher” series has sold over [...]

  • Fox News Media Taps Jason Klarman

    Fox News Media Taps Jason Klarman as Executive VP, Marketing

    Jason Klarman, a veteran TV executive who has served stints at NBCUniversal and Fullscreen Media, has been named executive vice president of Fox Corporation’s Fox News Media, and will supervise brand strategy for Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and other assets that are part of the division. Klarman will report to Suzanne Scott, CEO [...]

  • Sean Diddy Combs

    MTV, Sean 'Diddy' Combs Reunite for 'Making the Band' Return

    MTV and Sean “Diddy” Combs are reuniting to reboot the reality competition series “Making the Band.” The show is slated to premiere in 2020. Its return was prompted by a tweet Diddy recently posted suggesting it was time for a comeback. Originally featuring the creation of early 2000s boy band O-Town (the show was conceived [...]

  • HBO Communications Chief Quentin Schaffer to

    HBO Communications Chief Quentin Schaffer to Exit After 39 Years

    Longtime HBO communications head Quentin Schaffer is stepping down from his post next month after 39 years as a key architect of HBO’s premium TV brand. Schaffer will exit as HBO’s executive VP of corporate communications next month, after steering HBO through one last Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. He is the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content