A 13-episode animated TV series will be adapted from the classic 1960 children’s book, continuing the adventures of some of its characters. Cindy Holland, Netflix’s VP of original content, channeled Dr. Seuss’ famous meter in announcing the deal:
“We think this will be a hit
Green Eggs and Ham is a perfect fit
for our growing slate of amazing stories
available exclusively in all Netflix territories.
You can stream it on a phone.
You can stream it on your own.
You can stream it on TV.
You can stream it globally.”
The pact between Netflix and Warner Bros. took more than a year to hammer out. The complexity owes to the absence of a deal template between Netflix and Warner Bros., which is expected to cede its customary withholding of international distribution rights so that the streaming service can make the series available in all 50+ countries where it is in operation.
For all of its prowess in original programming, Netflix has just a few deals with major studios because of its hardline on retaining international distribution rights that could severely limit the backend windfall for participating producers. However, Netflix is said to offer a generous license fee upfront to mitigate risk as well.
Netflix’s biggest deal to date with a major studio was struck in 2013 for a multi-series at Disney based on Marvel characters from Marvel Television in association with ABC TV Studios. The first of those series, “Daredevil,” bowed April 10.
Shortly before the Marvel deal was reached, Netflix and Sony Pictures Television struck the streaming service’s first studio pact, for drama “Bloodline,” which premiered in March.
While Warner Bros. and Netflix have done many deals on the library licensing front, the closest the two have come to original programming was last year, when subsidiary Warner Horizon TV got an order for a fourth season of series “Longmire” after its TV home, A&E, opted not to continue after three seasons. They have since struck a deal for “Fuller House,” a 13-episode sequel to the popular late ’80s family sitcom.
While a Dr. Seuss series may not jibe with the more adult-themed fare Netflix is known for like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” kids programming is a valuable piece of the puzzle because of the intense competition in the subscription VOD category. Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus are also aggressively licensing library content and creating original programming for youngsters in a bid to woo a generation of consumers whose viewing habits are being radically reshaped by new digital content options.
While other Dr. Seuss classics have been adapted for the big screen, Seuss Enterprises has been far more selective about TV besides a few projects created at PBS.
DeGeneres comes to the project by way of Warner Bros., where she has a production company at subsidiary Telepictures Prods. producer of her talk show. Given both she and Seuss Enterprises are known for lighthearted, wholesome fare, they were paired together for the project.
Jared Stern, a writer who recently signed on to co-write “Lego Movie 2,” will pen the script and serve as an executive producer along with DeGeneres. Jeff Kleeman, Mike Karz and David Dobkin also exec produce.
ICM Partners orchestrated the deal on behalf of Ellen DeGeneres and her A Very Good Production banner as well as Dr. Seuss Enterprises.