CANNES – In a top-of-their-class animation alliance, Discovery Kids and Argentina’s Cris Morena Group and MundoLoco CGI, co-founded by Juan Jose Campanella, are partnering to co-develop three English-language kids toon series: “Floribella,” “Underdogs” and “Baby Rockers.”
Oscar winner Campanella (“The Secret of Their Eyes”) and Gaston Gorali, director and exec producer of “Foosball,” will serve as series’ show-runners. Discovery Kids will air the series exclusively in Latin America.
“This unique partnership with Cris Morena Group and MundoLoco CGI reiterates Discovery Kids commitment to expand its pipeline of original content, both with well-established hit franchises such as ‘Floribella’ and ‘Underdogs,’ as well as new content, such as ‘Baby Rockers,’” commented Carolina Lightcap, EVP and CCO of Discovery Latin America/U.S. Hispanic and Global Lead for Discovery Kids and Family.
Alliance indeed marks another step in Discovery Kids morph from a U.S. to global company based out of the U.S. The trio of skeins land Discovery Kids three of the key animation talents in Latin America- Campanella, Gorali and “Underdogs” producer Jorge Estrada Mora, all founders with Roberto Schroder of MundoLoco, plus in Cris Morena one of its most prolifically successful producers of Latin American TV producers on an international stage.
The founding stone of modern industrial animation in Argentina, employing in Buenos Aires, 400 artists from 16 countries 2013’s “Underdogs” was not only the biggest animated feature to date in Latin America, but also the highest-grossing animated feature over 2010-2014. notching up the best opening ever for an Argentine film on home-turf on its way to selling 4.63 million tickets worldwide to date vs. 3.6 million for “Don Gato y su pandilla,” from Mexico’s Anima Studios, Latin America’s biggest animation hub. “Underdogs” also ranked, in theatrical take, as the 14th biggest non-U.S. toon pic over 2010-14, per the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Producer of “Floricenta,” “Rebelde Way” and “Chiquititas 14 of Cris Morena’s TV formats have been produced for over 40 territories around the world.
The leading pre-school network in Latin America, and the top pay TV network in Brazil, Discovery Kids offers an IP which is positioned for global audiences a prime distribution platform to demonstrate the audience appeal and potentially outside Latin America of series which, in two cases out of three, have built-in brand recognition.
Not for nothing, the series will be shot in English, then dubbed into Spanish and Portuguese and other languages, Morena said. After Mexico’s Anima, MundoLoco/Cris Morena, with the Discovery Kids co-development contract, now ranks potentially as one of the biggest potential animation production hubs on Latin America.
Based on the globally successful live-action series “Floricienta,” which ran for 250-plus episodes, playing 25 countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Midle East, the new animated series ‘Floribella’ “keeps all the mystical essence of the original story, while transporting audiences to a new animated world filled with music and magic,” said Morena.
Its central character, Flor, is still a joyful, livewire girl, who talks twelve-to-a-dozen, but now younger, 15, who lives in a a modern city that looks part Venice, part Copacabana and with her materialistic step-mother and step-sister, Morena said at Mipcom. Her emotions become fairies, her best friend is a fly.
Laced with Campanella’s hallmark humor, the major novelty of the movie “Underdogs” were figures from a foosball table who come to life to save their hometown from destruction and help their player win back the love of his life.
Part-sitcom, part action-adventure, “Underdogs” reprises main foosball characters from the movie – Skip, the veteran captain who would die for his team, the flashy Rico and neo- hippy Loco – who live for and by the codes of sport.
But “Underdogs” will incorporate “multiple” new characters and a new world, Campanella asked at Mipcom.
In the series, the characters, when not chilling out in the arcade where the foosball table is situated, live in Sportsville, situated below the table, a sunlit world where everything has a reference to sports – tennis balls grow on trees, the police force is staffed by referees – but whose idyllic existence is threatened by a incompetent villain.
An aspirational series, ”Underdogs” targets 4-9 boys and girls, Gorali said at Mipcom. “Underdogs” will incorporate “multiple” new characters, Campanella added.
A new IP, ‘Baby Rockers’ presents a multi-cultural band of babies – a mod, Reggeaton Latino drummer, punk rocker and futurist techno keyboard player – who live to rock. Their babysitter, Dolores, tries to keep them quiet. “The difference with ‘Floribella’ and ‘Underdogs’ is that while the first two have developed narratives, twists, ‘Baby Rockers’ is more sensorial, and with visual humor,” Campanella explained. Segs will run 5-7 minutes. Characters, being babies, don’t really talk, although they can sing lyrics, Gorali added.
Series are setting up writing rooms, making their casting, viewing samples, Campanella said. They will use the same Buenos Aires studio as “Underdogs” the movie. Series’ segs will bow in primetime, said Lightcap. They are scheduled to air by 2017.