Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Around Cartoon Network

As most people know, the television side of the business has not been as robust as in previous years, but perhaps things are looking up at least a little. At least at CN. I had recent occasion to talk to a mucky-muck at the network of 'toons and he caught me up on what strategies the Time-Warner family member is now pursuing to grow its business:

"Clone Wars is an acquisition that we're using to build on. We're programming comedy shows on Thursday nights, and making Friday night an adventure program destination. We've increased our overall ratings a bunch since last year, so things are getting better ...

"In the development area, Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti are in charge of the shorts development program. So far they've taken hundreds of pitches, and greenlit sixteen shorts for production. We've got a lot of money devoted to the program, and we'll probably be looking at animatics for various shorts and ordering short series orders from the ones that look most promising ..."

The network still hasn't pumped things up to where it would like them to be, but Clone Wars has been doing well for the net, so it makes sense to use the show as a cornerstone.

... a cumulative total of more than 27 million people have seen the first three episodes of Lucasfilm Animation’s weekly STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS animated series, and STAR WARS has become the biggest licensed toy property of the year ... Since its Sept. 16 release, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has become the fastest-selling STAR WARS videogame in history, while the official novelization of the game rocketed to the top spot of the New York Times Best Sellers list in its first week of sales ...

With this kind of churn in the marketplace, Cartoon Network plans to ride the wave and attract more eyeballs for its other offerings. "We're going after the older demographic, nine to fourteen-year-old boys," says the mucky-muck, which sounds like a wise strategy to us. Particularly if it leads to higher ratings, more projects, and more work for animation artists.

Because higher employment is what, after the bark is stripped away, it's all about. (I mean, besides the art thing, and the "expanding people's minds" thing. We all have to eat, correct?)

6 comments:

Racattack Force said...

Frankly, I just wish that they had more FULLY animated TV-movies in production. They only have two, while five of them are hybrids. And I think there is one completely live-action one.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know any of the creators behind any of the 16 greenlit shorts?

Anonymous said...

Rob Renzetti and Craig McCracken?!?

So we're now guaranteed to see more of the CalArts incestuous workforce and even more of the same tired, flat style.

They should just annex that studio and farm out original programming to a bunch of smaller studios around town. Then they would have a better slate of programming. Sorry, buthe Cartoon Network studio is the biggest bust in television animation.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the "Cartoonstitute" IS very pro-Cal Arts. The good thing is that the stuff I've seen isn't the same old Dexter's Lab/Mary Blair type of stuff we've all been overexposed to. BUT the shorts still seem very, "style over substance" nonetheless. The only thing studios need to be looking for is good storytelling with strong characters and an art style that isn't a pain in the butt to draw so we all don't have to take TESTS anymore. But of course, what Exec. has actual knowledge of the art of storytelling and animation?

Anonymous said...

...and the same flat, tired budgets, which beget flat, tired cartoons.

Anonymous said...

CN ought to make a series out of "Underfist". That was one of the best CN movies ever. Genuinely funny, creative, imaginative, and loaded with great characters, especially its main character, the ever-timid but goodhearted Irwin. If CN doesn't do something with that series then it's lost its frelling mind IMO. (Although it does deserve kudos for the "Ben 10" franchise. Not many networks would allow a re-imagining of one of its hits, but CN took the risk and it paid off handsomely.

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