When Brian Robbins first asked his kids and their friends about YouTube sensation “Fred Figglehorn,” he knew he was on to something.
“Would you watch a ‘Fred’ movie?” he asked the boys.
“Right now?” they promptly answered.
Coming off a successful run in TV and features, Robbins is back in the kids and teens space — and finding it even more lucrative this time around. (In the mid-1990s, he and former production partner Mike Tollin cultivated a crop of young talent, including Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon, starting with the sketch comedy “All That.”)
With viral video star Lucas Cruikshank (Fred) onboard, Robbins bankrolled “Fred: The Movie” and produced it all himself. Robbins turned around and sold the broadcast rights to Nickelodeon, where the movie aired in September to more than 7.6 million viewers. For the sequel, Robbins is aiming even bigger: “Fred 2,” currently in pre-production, will likely get a feature release in partnership with Nickelodeon.
Meanwhile, now that he’s thriving within a new economic model, Robbins is already at work on his next franchise, turning once again to his kids’ YouTube habits for inspiration. The boys’ love of ninja videos led Robbins to come up with “Supah Ninjas,” which just landed a hefty 26-episode order from Nick.
“There hasn’t been a new action show for kids in a long time,” Robbins says. “I wanted to take all the new technology available to us and do cool effects in a much simpler way. It’s much more affordable to do some of the stuff that we do on the show.”