“Rabbids Invasion,” based on Ubisoft’s bundles of lunatic energy that made the leap from video games to animated television in 2013, was renewed in China and landed new broadcasters in Japan, the company told Variety Tuesday.
“Rabbids Invasion” is currently the most watched and positively rated children’s show on Chinese television, pulling in more than two billion views across Chinese digital platforms by the end of this summer season, according to Ubisoft’s film and television studio in Paris.
“‘Rabbids Invasion’ was our first major foray into animated series, and we’re thrilled it has resonated with so many audiences and resulted in international success,” said Hélène Juguet, managing director of the Paris studio.
The show is developed in-house at the Ubisoft Paris studio and is now in its fourth season airing in France on France Télévisions. Season 4 will be available soon on Netflix for international audiences, and on iQiyi in China.
Juguet, who worked for years on the Rabbids video game brand before making the leap to the studio, said that the animation studio was initially formed in response to broadcast companies asking if they could license the popular characters.
“We started thinking about that,” she said. “Animation is part of our know-how. So we decided to structure an animation studio around that brand and then found some great partners interesting in broadcasting it.”
Juguet believes the rampant success of the show is powered not just by the characters, but by the way the Rabbids approach the world.
“The Rabbids are a very malleable brand,” she said. “They don’t have a world of their own, they are characters that invade other worlds whether it’s Rayman’s, where they came from, to the human world. They can fit into any cultural background and make it their own. They bring their own silly way of interpreting the world.”
“They’re super adaptable and that’s part of their success.”
The popularity of “Rabbids Invasion” will also likely lead to other takes on the Rabbids outside of video games, and other Ubisoft brands coming to TV and film, Juguet said.
“It’s not always going to be ‘Rabbids Invasion,’” she said. “There is a movie project and a special project. We have explored some shorter forms and have garnered some clear interest in a longer, 60-minute special.”
The recent increase in popularity of the show in Asia is due in part to the success of another sort of experiment: The cross-over strategy video game that brought Ubisoft’s Rabbids into Nintendo’s world of Mario and friends.
“Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” garnered high review scores and remains a popular game for the Nintendo Switch.
“We definitely saw the impact it had in making TV Tokyo interested in the program,” Juguet said. The game also demonstrated very clearly just how adaptable the characters can be and why turning them loose in a show is so easy. Ubisoft has also experimented with comic books and theme parks with the Rabbids.
Now that Ubisoft has had a taste of that multi-media success, the company is interested in exploring more possibilities with its other franchises, Juguet said.
“We are super proud of what we have managed to achieve with the Rabbids and what they have done for their first animated series,” she said. “This first success makes us want to continue. We are working on different IP and ideas now.”