Nickelodeon to Revive ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ as TV Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

2016 TV Upfront: Nickelodeon To Revive
Courtesy of Nickelodeon

When Viacom’s Nickelodeon sketches its future for advertisers Wednesday afternoon, one of the elements it will touch upon will be its past.

As part of a presentation to promote its upcoming slate of programs, the kids-content media empire (comprising several cable networks and more) will unveil a live-action TV movie inspired by its mid-1990s game show “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” as well as a two-part TV movie based on “Hey Arnold!,” one of its best-known animated series that ran between 1996 and 2004. The company will also talk up a slate that includes what its top executive calls “happy reality” programs, like “All In,” an adventure docu-series led by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and “Crashletes,” a half-hour series that will feature crazy viral sports clips. The programs downplay mean-spirited competition in favor of showing people having fun.

“There’s a tremendous amount of attention on kids these days. What that says is there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity – not unlike what is going on in the grownup space,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of Viacom’s cable networks aimed at kids and families, in an interview. “There is just more content everywhere.”

A lot of adults are relying on Nickelodeon’s kiddie fare. Viacom has been under intense pressure in recent months, as several of its flagship networks like MTV and Comedy Central grapple with viewership declines and investors question the strategy pursued by the corporation’s management. At Nickelodeon, however, ratings have improved. The network has seen its audience between the ages of 2 and 11 rise 4% in the first quarter of the year, according to analysis from Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger, while Nick Jr.’s audience in that demographic has risen 57%. In doing so, the analyst said, the networks have taken share from competitors. Even so, Nickelodeon’s subscriber base and ad revenue shrank somewhat in both 2015 and 2016, according to data from market-research firm SNL Kagan, even as the subscriber fees it gains from distributors rose in both years.

“The company is under a lot of scrutiny, but I don’t think Nickelodeon is under any scrutiny at all,” said Zarghami a veteran programmer who joined the network as a clerk in 1986 and rose steadily through the ranks. “We have done a tremendous amount of work to build our ecosystem.”

Nickelodeon is in a different position than it was last year at this time, when Time Warner’s Cartoon Network was making ratings strides. Zarghami’s networks will vie with media outlets owned by Disney, Time Warner and NBCUniversal for approximately $800 million in advance commitments from advertisers as part of a process known as the upfront market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. The task has grown more difficult for kids’ outlets in recent years, as the rising generation of young viewers see little distinction between watching Nick series like “Bubble Guppies” on-demand and watching them on the network that launched it.

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To lure those viewers, Zarghami and her executive team have put more focus on creating content – and not just for TV. “Game Shakers,” a series that debuted in 2015, centers on two young female entrepreneurs who devise apps,  and makes their fictional creations available for real-life download via iTunes and other venues. The Nick and Nick Jr. apps have been downloaded onto 27 million devices, the company said, and Nick digital properties get 100 million views per month from kids.

Zarghami cites the pre-school audience as a primary factor in Nick’s recent ratings wins. “The pre-school audience does a tremendous amount of work to lift the 2-to-11 audience,” she said. “Alvinnn,” a new take on “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and perennial favorite “SpongeBob Squarepants” have helped attract audiences, but Zarghami also pointed to series including “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “PAW Patrol” and “Henry Danger” as successes.

The recent emphasis on reviving old Nick favorites was borne out of an idea from interns more than five years ago, she recounted. The interns thought the old programs would work well online, but Nick execs thought they might work well on TV, and put a block of the shows on Teen Nick at night. As original fans of 1990s fare adopted social media, she said, “Interest in the Nick library was becoming louder and louder and louder.” Now executives hope to revive select concepts that will charm older fans but also spark new interest from their children.

In “Hidden Temple,three siblings must conquer a series of obstacles to remain alive, mirroring the theme of the original game show. The TV movie, slated to appear in the fourth quarter of 2016, will nod to other elements from the original show, including Olmec, a talking head who knows the secrets behind the temple; the Steps of Knowledge, the entrance to the temple and launching pad for the mission; and cameos from a green monkey, red jaguar and silver snakes, among others. Isabela Moner, known from her role on Nick’s “100 Things to Do Before High School,” will star.The TV movie is directed by Joe Menendez and written by Jonny Umansky, Zach Hyatt, and Alex Reid. The “Arnold” movies are slated to appear in 2017.

Zarghami declined to reveal more of Nickelodeon’s programming slate, but hinted at a growing interesting in sports-themed programming and live events. The goal, she said, is to turn viewers into fans, who want to keep talking about shows even after an episode ends. “Once you can convert a viewer into a fan, you can have an ongoing conversation with them,” she said. Nickelodeon will spark that chatter later this week.

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  1. barry says:

    The legends of the hidden temple website seems to be for sale. I guess they are trashing it?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The only credit that I can give Nick is hiring originally temple host Kirk Fogg for the TV movie for which at the same time will act as a “decoy” for fans of the original series just like when Betty White act as a decoy for fans of the original version of To Tell the Truth on ABC in 2016.

  3. Shawna says:

    I’d really like to see the tv show legends of the hidden temple aired back on television. I use to look forward to watching the show when I got home from school. I’m sure the kids now would also enjoy the show. Thank you, A fan of the show

  4. Anonymous says:

    Epic fail Nickelodeon…Epic Fail!

  5. Policecamera says:

    I love action mystery shows. This looks like a great hit to me.

  6. Gregory says:

    Cyma’s full of it. The network is in serious trouble.. the only reason she hasn’t been fired is the Nick Jr. block, led by PAW Patrol, bailing out the main network, which has serious issues because of their heavy dependence on Spongebob and ALVIN!!…

    And I’m not confident on the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie.. it’s a game show, not something that could be made into an adventure movie..

    • Patty says:

      Correction: Spongebob, which hasn’t really been relevant since about 10 years ago, ALVINNN!, and also Power Rangers. Nick has been airing the last six seasons of the series (Samurai/Super Samurai, Megaforce/Super Megaforce, Dino Charge/Dino Super Charge).

    • Shandy says:

      True.
      And I can just imagine the sort of movie it’d make…formulaic and predictable, I’m sure, but if they try to incorporate as many specific elements as possible of the show and its temple…it might be above average for a TV movie? Here’s hoping.

  7. Yo says:

    Nickelodeon ruining childhoods since 2008

  8. Shandy says:

    Iiiinteresting…if it leads to a revival of the actual game, that’d be terrific. :) And you know which game show REALLY needs reviving? That’s My Dog! Or Zig & Zag: The Alpha Dog Challenge, but That’s My Dog was geared more toward average family pets than Agility competitors. Anyway. Those weren’t Nick games, but I watched them religiously along with my toons. ;)
    The Splat should become a 24/7 channel, unless they want to just put all of the 80s & 90s Nick series on a website in their entireties so people can watch Nick’s best-by-far work straight through.

    They’ve got to know that nothing can compare with their initial “golden age.” I watch The Splat on TeeNick (eight glorious hours a day of 90s Nickelodeon–it’s close to heaven.) But aside from SpongeBob & the occasional Fairly Oddparents, what reason is there to stop on the main Nick? Very little.
    It’s the same with Disney Channel, Cartoon Network…and even other, non-animation-centric ones such as Animal Planet. The original stuff is timeless and endlessly appealing. Almost everything since feels so throwaway, so forgettable and absolutely redundant.
    Bubble Guppies, Game Shakers, Henry Danger–goodness no. There is zero point to “Alvinnn,” with the deeply unattractive CG redesigns. What’s so difficult about airing the adorable original chipmunks?? Can’t get the rights? =(
    For preschoolers, Paw Patrol is…perhaps slightly above mediocre. Blaze & the Monster Machines is a near-identical step down from Hasbro’s Chuck & Friends–both of which are essentially preschool versions of Pixar’s Cars.

  9. Reece says:

    I’m on the fence about this. On one hand, Legends of the Hidden Temple is one of Nick’s best shows of all time, a resurrection if surely something to look forward to. On the other hand, it’s not the show, it’s a TV movie, which doesn’t sound as good… Plus it stars Nick stars, who can’t act…

    I’ll watch it, but I hope this is a gateway into the shows return (without Nick stars!)

  10. lala's big fat stupid mongrel mother says:

    this is going to be a trainwreck

  11. lalal says:

    we gonna see memes and minecraft-lol stuff

    this program will be 100% shiet

  12. Daniel says:

    I’m not sure why they’re going with the TV movie route. The quality is clearly going to be geared towards kids who may not even know what this game show is, so it just seems kind of pointless.

  13. Austin says:

    Cheap cash in. Come up with new and original ideas.

  14. Coonfoot says:

    Not quite how I expected them to revive that show, but at least it’s something. This might be the first time in a long while I watch one of their live-action TV movies.

  15. Kyle Maloney says:

    I for one thing this sounds like a great idea. It reminds me of Jumunji. Still would like to see this revived as a game show again though.

  16. unknown says:

    NICKELODEON YOU F***ING IDIOTS!!!!!!!! dont they know that movie adaptations of games as well as anything those blockheads try are DISATERS and thier finally chatching up to them. this net work runs nothing but scumbob chipmunks, and bad live action shows.

  17. Kasey says:

    Definitely not understanding the whole ‘movie’ trend they’ve got going on. Hey Arnold is getting two movies and Legends of the Hidden Temple, a once popular game show for kids, is now being turned into a movie? I thought they wanted to expand these things through to the younger generations in a long-term way with multiple episodes coming out once weekly or something, as they did when the shows first aired, that way a kid (or adult) who finds the show fascinating will tune in regularly for more episodes instead of having one-shot experiences that can easily be pushed aside and lumped together with the hundreds of other movies they’ve seen in their lifetime. I appreciate that they’re even trying to revamp the shows I grew up with but if the budgets are low enough to only make movies out of them then do everyone a favor and just re-air the old episodes. Sure, it’s not going to be quite as ‘modern’ as it could be but at least there would be multiple episodes for people to enjoy instead of one movie. You guys are missing out on a great opportunity here and it’s upsetting to see things going down like this.

  18. Jen says:

    i honstly think this is a bad idea they should just revamp the game show and make it all new, with a new host and everything making it into a movie is just weird?

  19. I love all of this, but I would like to advocate Viacom to push for the release of The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD. Please, I’ll get down on my knees and beg for this one since I’m too old to take on the Temple and I’ll never have a chance to climb the Aggro Crag or tell Stoop Kid it’s okay to chill on his stoop sometimes, please, just give us season 3.

  20. Noooooooooooooo why are they making this for kids when no kids know the show? It’s awful. Make it for the FANS.

    • JSunkist says:

      No kids no the show is correct – however, neither did we when the original premiered. We watched the debut and liked it — it could have been a remake as well for all we knew without knowing a prequel – didn’t happen that way, so I’d say it’s highly possible kids may enjoy it – without needing to know of the original.

    • jeff says:

      Yes, god forbid they make a kids show for kids network for kids to watch. Fans of the old show know where to find it.

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