Nickelodeon has given a series order to “Supah Ninjas,” a new live-action comedy from Varsity Pictures’ Brian Robbins.
The kids cabler picked up 26 episodes of the single-camera series, which reps a bit of a departure from the multi-cam sitcoms that currently make up much of the live-action fare on Nick and rival Disney Channel.
“Supah Ninjas” centers on Mike Fukanaga (played by Ryan Potter), a high schooler who discovers that he actually descends from a line of ninjas. He soon forms a secret team of ninja crime fighters — the “Supah Ninjas” — with his friends (Carlos Knight and Gracie Dzienny).
George Takei starred in the pilot as Mike’s grandfather, who gives the team guidance.
Eric Garcia and Leo Chu, who were behind Spike TV’s “Afro Samurai,” created the show with Robbins. Garcia, Chu and Robbins will exec produce with Sharla Sumpter-Bridgett.
Deal extends Robbins’ relationship with Nickelodeon, where he recently sold the hit telepic “Fred: The Movie.” “Fred” attracted 7.6 million viewers in its bow; Robbins and Nick are currently discussing how to proceed with a sequel.
Just as Robbins first discovered the Internet sensation “Fred Figglehorn” via his kids’ Internet habits, the idea for “Supah Ninjas” first came about after Robbins’ children began searching for ninja videos on YouTube.
“They got obsessed with Googling ‘ninja,’ and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to make a ninja show,'” Robbins said. “Even before that, I had been wanting to do a balls-out action show for boys. There hasn’t been one in a long time, not since ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'”
Robbins said technology has finally advanced to the point where the special effects necessary for “Supah Ninjas” is affordable. The pilot to “Supah Ninjas” cost around $1.4 million — on the high end for Nickelodeon, but inexpensive for the kind of theatrical-style effects that Robbins plans to employ.
Marjorie Cohn, Nickelodeon’s president of original programming and development, said Robbins and company “delivered on the action-adventure piece.
“This show will take us to another level,” she said. “We’re always trying to stretch our genres and still deliver on core kid entertainment.”
Beyond the TV series, Robbins hopes to expand “Supah Ninjas” into other platforms, including games and comic books.
Robbins began his production career at Nick in the mid-1990s, where his credits included “All That” and “Kenan and Kel” as a partner in Tollin/Robbins Prods. Varsity’s TV credits also include “Sonny With a Chance” at Disney and Spike’s “Blue Mountain State.”