ANNECY, France — In a set of back-to-back sessions at this year’s Annecy Intl. Animation Festival, Disney announced a reboot of one of its classic animated series, shared updates on handful of others and reaffirmed its commitment to quality content creation in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The afternoon kicked off with a stand-alone Studio Focus for “Monsters at Work,” the upcoming serialization of the popular “Monsters, Inc.” franchise, followed by Disney annual Mifa Press Conference, led this year by Hélène Etzi, country manager at The Walt Disney Company France, with Orion Ross, VP of animation, digital and acquisitions for Disney Europe & Africa, and Caterina Gonnelli, director of acquisitions and productions for Disney Europe & Africa.
A slate of new originals was unveiled, as well as details about other hyped projects and current series.
The “Monsters at Work” presentation provided a first look at the highly anticipated Disney Plus series coming out in 2020. The series is produced by Disney Television Animation, with animation production by Montpellier-based Dwarf Animation. It was developed and is executive produced by Disney’s Bobs Gannaway along with Ferrell Barron who will produce.
Both Billy Crystal and John Goodman will return to their roles as Mike and Sulley for the series, which picks up six months after the original film ended. Now that the factories of Monsters, Inc. no longer harvest screams, after Mike and Sully proved that laughter provides ten times more energy, a new generation of workers who fancy themselves as funny look to shine, led by Tylor Tuskmon, a mechanic at the factory.
It was announced at the Disney Channels and Disney Plus Animated Series press conference that the world’s most famous pair of chipmunks, Chip ‘n’ Dale, will be rebooted by the House of Mouse for its Disney Plus streaming platform.
The show is being developed by the company’s London-based team in co-production with Marc du Pontavice’s Paris’-based Xilam, the company behind kids and family hits like “Paprika” and “Mr Magoo,” both of which have enjoyed success at Annecy in the past. Pontavice is being honored at this year’s Annecy Festival where he receives its Mifa Animation Industry Award.
The series’ 39, seven-minute episodes will be produced using traditional animation styles and feature contemporary slap-stick narratives as the furry pair struggle with life in the big city.
“Animation continues to be one of the cornerstones of Disney magic and story-telling, across Disney Channels and excitedly, now on the new streaming platform, Disney Plus,” said Etzi in an accompanying press release. “As a company, we are privileged to work with so many creative masterminds, both here in France and across Europe, who are first in class when it comes to relaying timeless stories for all members of the family.”
“This is a hugely busy and exciting year and there’s no better time to be working in animation, which continues to be at the heart of what we do at Disney,” echoed Ross. “We are proud to announce this exciting slate, working with phenomenally talented international creatives to deliver stories that are full of fun, creating characters that are extremely loveable, and showcasing a breadth of animation styles.”
Also announced at the press conference was the Disney acquisition of BBC Studio’s “Bluey,” a series which turns on a highly imaginative Blue Heeler dog and her canine pals. The series is intended for pre-school audiences, but addresses its viewers in a refreshingly respectful way, never talking down to its young viewers.
“’Bluey’ has bowled people over with its warmth, energy and humor,” Henrietta Hurford-Jones, director of Children’s Content at BBC Studios said in a statement.
She added: “The way the show celebrates brilliantly observed moments of contemporary family life, role play and imagination has struck a chord with everyone who has watched the first series on the ABC and I can’t wait for ‘Bluey’ and family to meet the rest of the world.”
Created by Joe Brumm and produced by the multi-Emmy winning Ludo Studio for ABC Australia and BBC Studios, Disney has secured TV and SVOD rights for all markets, excluding Australia, New Zealand and greater China, for Disney Junior and Disney Plus. The show is currently the number one Australian children’s series on metro broadcast in the country.
“Ghose Force,” from Paris-based Zagtoon, the studio behind “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir,” follows a group of junior high friends who team to form a secret superhero team dedicated to protecting New York City. The series is aimed at kids six and up.
Exclusive Annecy trailers were screened for two upcoming original animated series, “Amphibia” from “Gravity Falls’s” Matt Braly, and “The Owl House” from one of Variety’s former “10 Animators to Watch” Dana Terrace.
“Amphibia” follows 13-year-old Anne who gets transplanted to an frog-filled world called Amphibia where she becomes a local hero, while “The Owl House,” which hosted its own stand-alone presentation on Monday night, is a magic-filled fantasy series about a teenage girl who similarly finds herself in another world, one ruled by magic.
“T.O.T.S.” an animal-themed pre-school show, screened a clip of the song “L.O.V.E.” which teaches that all you need to have a family is love after characters question how a mother bird could have a baby kitten.
An equally musical clip from “101 Dalmatian Street” was shared, which featured the spotted family on a road trip in a classic London double-decker bus.
According to the press release: “Since its launch in Europe in March 2019, ‘101 Dalmatian Street’ has already been viewed by 34 million individuals including 12 million kids across 17 EMEA markets.”
“Mira, Royal Detective,” from Wild Canary and Disney Junior was teased. A mystery adventure series, the pre-school aimed show is inspired by Indian culture and customs and is scheduled to release in 2020.
Also announced on Tuesday, Seasons 4 and 5 of “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir” are in pre-production, which comes off the heels of news that there will be a new seasons of eOne and Frog Box’s hit series PJ Masks for Disney Junior.