×

How Netflix Picked Up Ex-NFL Player Trevor Pryce’s ‘Kulipari’ Animated Show About Superhero Frogs

Trevor Pryce, two-time Super Bowl champ with the Denver Broncos and all-pro defensive end, has launched a post-NFL career based on his childhood angst about frogs getting flattened on the roads of Florida.

Netflix last year bought the rights to “Kulipari: An Army of Frogs,” based on his book triology published by Abrams, about superhero frogs fighting hordes of scorpions and spiders in the Australian outback. The show’s 13 22-minute episodes are set to debut worldwide on Netflix Sept. 2, as part of a fall wave of original kids’ programming coming to the service.

Pryce funded the production of the animated series himself, teaming with production company Splash Entertainment. Originally envisioned as three feature-length animated specials, the project was distilled into a single season for Netflix — after the streamer jumped to acquire the rights to “Kulipari.”

“Netflix said ‘yes’ the quickest,” said Pryce, who also shopped “Kulipari” to two traditional TV networks (which he declined to identify). He signed the deal with Netflix before even pitching it to Hulu or Amazon.

The series follows Darel, a young frog who dreams of joining the Kulipari army to become the warrior of his dreams and fight the forces of the evil Spider Queen Jarrah and Lord Marmoo, the leader of the vicious Scorpion Army.

Pryce declined to specify the budget for “Kulipari: An Army of Frogs,” but said “I spent a lot of money on it. It didn’t cost as much as ‘House of Cards,’ but we spent more per episode than Marvel has spent on some of their TV shows. My thing was, the quality had to be so superior — because I don’t have a track record (in TV).”

With the show greenlit, Pryce and his partners at Splash signed on Canadian animation studio Cartoon Conrad Productions, and tapped as director Tad Stones, a former Disney animator whose credits with the Mouse House include “Darkwing Duck” and who also worked on the animated “Hellboy” movies.

“I had a certain idea of how I wanted it to look,” Pryce said. But he discovered the realities of animation required certain changes. For example, in the books the spider queen, Jarrah, has human legs with a spider body; but that was changed for the show to give her spider legs, because it looked better in animated sequences.

The origins of the “Kulipari” story date back to when Pryce was growing up in Florida. “In Florida, whenever it rains the frogs come out, on my street there were all these smushed frogs. It freaked me out,” he said. He melded the idea of superhero frogs with elements of Aboriginal Australian folklore, along with the fable of “The Scorpion and the Frog” in writing the Kulipari stories. (Undoubtedly, other anthropomorphic superheroes ranging from Rocket Raccoon to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also served as an inspiration in some way.)

Now Pryce is extending the frog franchise into merchandise, which has included a line of Kulipari T-shirts with Under Armour, and comic books with “Kulipari: Heritage,” a four-issue series that is being released this week.

And he’s planning to make additional seasons of “Kulipari” that continue the story, and possibly even a feature-length movie — regardless of whether Netflix opts to pick them up. “I am making a season two, and a three and four and five,” he said.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • westworld awakening art

    HBO Launches 'Westworld Awakening' VR Game With Survios

    Ever wanted to enter the world of “Westworld?” Now you can — except it won’t exactly be like you might have imagined it. Instead of being one of those guests living out their fantasies, you will be a host, slowly coming to grips with your life being an elaborate illusion. “Westworld Awakening” has been produced [...]

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Mike Vaughan

    Former Venmo COO Mike Vaughan Joins Stem's Board

    Los Angeles-based music distribution and payments startup Stem has appointed former Venmo executive Mike Vaughan to its board of directors. Vaughan was chief operating officer of Venmo from 2011 until earlier this year, and is now executive in residence at Oak HC/FT. “The music industry can benefit tremendously from innovation in the way money flows [...]

  • Streamy Awards

    Streamy Awards 2019 Return to YouTube for Exclusive Live-Stream

    The 9th Annual Streamy Awards will again be available to stream live on YouTube exclusively. The 2019 awards ceremony will take place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Friday, Dec. 13 and will stream live globally on YouTube via youtube.com/streamys. Videos from the 2018 Streamy Awards received over 6.9 million views on YouTube. [...]

  • Stefan Heinrich Henriquez - Cameo

    Celeb Video-Shoutout Startup Cameo Hires Ex-TikTok Exec Stefan Heinrich Henriquez

    Cameo, a startup that lets consumers purchase video shoutouts from celebrities, tapped Stefan Heinrich Henriquez as chief marketing officer and general manager of international. Heinrich, most recently head of marketing for short-form video app TikTok, will lead the company’s global growth and branding and play a key role in Cameo’s continued global expansion. He’s based [...]

  • Curiosity Stream Altice

    Altice USA Pacts With John Hendricks' CuriosityStream Service

    Altice USA has set a deal with John Hendricks’ CuriosityStream to expand distribution of the science- and history-focused subscription streaming service. The deal will make CuriosityStream available to all Altice USA’s 4.9 million customers across 21 states, including a big cluster serving New York and Connecticut. Altice also plans to add the CuriosityStream app to [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Lionsgate Play Launching in India With Vodafone Idea

    Premium entertainment service, Lionsgate Play is launching in India through a partnership between telecoms operator Vodafone Idea and Starzplay, the subscription platform from Lionsgate subsidiary Starz. Lionsgate Play offers curated Hollywood content for the Indian consumers, with much of the content available in multiple Indian languages. It currently includes more than 7,500 television episodes and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content