WBA, Cartoon Network, Hanna-Barbera Studio Focus: Details



ANNECY — London-based Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe is set to initiate production next week on “Beast Boy: Lone Wolf,” the first time than a DC title that will be made out of the U.K.

The announcement was made at a studio focus for Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network Studios and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe, whose fan favourites had a student/exec audience hollering in approval. 

Introduced by Sam Register, president of all three companies, the focus must rate at the fastest-paced of all big studio unveils at Annecy, packed by never-seen-before footage of multiple shows. Register didn’t talk strategy: The audience wanted to see shows, and studio execs were excited to show them. 

Indirectly, however, the focus said much about the state of animation at Warner Bros. Discovery after it scaled back on originals and restructured organization last year. Some pivots seen at the focus:

*One big Annecy focus highlight was a never-seen sizzle reel of the brooding, ultra-noir “Batman: Caped Crusader,” executive produced by Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, which was announced last year as no longer set to air on the then HBO Max. It now forms part of three Warner Bros. Animation shows, with the comedic “Merry Little Batman” and “Bat-Family,” also glimpsed at Annecy, which have been sold to Prime Video, in a third-party licensing deal announced in April which looks to become more prevalent among streamers in general when prices are right.

*Last year, Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network Studios and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe presented for the first time together at Annecy, with separate execs from each studio. This time round, as one development team works across all three entities, they are moving ever closer to one studio with three distinct labels. Sammy Perlmutter, Audrey Diehl and Peter Giraldi hitting Annecy head up development across the three companies for longform series, kids and family series and adult animation respectively. 

*The focus of each label remains broadly the same, with Cartoon Network Studios centering on creator-driven original IP. At Annecy, however, Diehl unveiled an excerpt from its first push into pre-school, the simpatico “Jessica’s Big Little World.”

*No studio focus was faster-paced at Annecy this year than the trio’s on Wednesday, packing 21 titles in 45 minutes. That may be no coincidence. In live action, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has said that he expects a diverse slate of films from Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy: “Romantic comedies, gangster films, horror, tentpoles, the gamut.” 

At Annecy, Register also delivered the gamut, kicking off with a pre-school series, the sweet “Jessica’s Big Little World,” and climaxing 45 minutes later with ferocious battle scenes from “Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” a brutal anime movie. In between, his team had unveiled shorts, short format and half-hour series and movies across kids and family, adult and longform targeting every audience demo and every platform from theatrical to broadcast and streaming. 

Jessica’s Big Little World

*Where could the group expand? 

“One of the things that we’re really excited about is the amount of talent in Europe, that’s just getting better and better,” Register told Variety just before the Annecy panel.

“”Pre-production is coming to Europe more than ever before. That’s very exciting.” Playing off  Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe’s location in London,  “One thing we want to do in this new era is find that new talent pool in Europe. [“Gumball” creator] Ben [Bocquelet] is a master. There’s probably 10 more Bens out there in Europe,” he added.

Beast Boy as You’ve Never Seen Him

Featuring the standalone adventures of Beast Boy, a main character in “Teen Titans Go!” which has run to eight seasons, the new series is directed by Rhys Byfield (“Elliott From Earth”) made up of 10 shorts and to be aired on Cartoon Network EMEA. 

Announced as “just started” by Hanna-Barbera’s Sarah Fell, VP, series, a single concept art image glimpsed at Annecy on Wednesday suggests that the series may be a very different proposition than the wacky “Teen Titans Go!” with more of an action edge.

“Taz,” a new Hanna-Barbera Short

In further news at a studio focus, Hanna-Barbera is producing “Taz,” a stop-motion short which cocks a snoop at stereotyping, featuring Taz, a Tasmanian Devil. 

From a short clip unveiled at Annecy, he looks eternally frustrated in his efforts to scare the living daylights out of fellow animals, such as a Penguin ice-cream vendor. But when he has the chance, his good nature gets the better of him. Maybe some Devils aren’t cut out to be monsters, the short seems to be saying. Richard Webber (“Shaun the Sheep”) directs.

“Tiny Toons Looniversity” Gets Its Tune

A revival of the famed 1990-92 “Tiny Toon Adventures,” the first animated series produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Animation, “Tiny Toons Looniversity,” provided another session unveil: Its never-seen-before new main title sequence with the classic main title melody of “Tiny Toon Adventures,” but new lyrics. High-energy, the sequence features a combination of showtime razzmatazz – the tiny toon students, which once more include Babs and Buster, dancing down a staircase in top hats – and inormal university activities such as football. In a similar set-up to the original,  students are put through their paces by toon stars Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky

Tiny Toons Looniversity

Seven More Highlights at the Studio Focus:

“Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake”

One of the most anticipated of focus series, its title, announced by Peter Giraldi, causing the Annecy audience to catch its collective breath. The first Adventure Time series made specifically for young adults/adults, though the series developed a cult grownup audience over time. Giraldi showed a short clip received by screams of delight, featuring a sword-wielding Fionna and the immensely bushy tailed Cake, in a series which turn on their travails to rescue the Ice King. 

A New “Gumball” Season

It’s one indication of “Gumball’s cache that the biggest applause in the whole showcase was for its producer, Hanna-Barbera’s  Sarah Fell, introduced by Register as “Gumball’s mummy.” The new series, which certainly won’t be called “The Amazing World of Gumball” Season Seven, is “in middle of production,” said Diehl. For lack of footage, the “Gumball” team put together a mock teaser trailer Gumball and Darwin crawling out from their graves as the clip announced “something annoying, something evil” – a new series which will “reanimate” them. A ‘90s computer then spewed questions for the “Gumball” crew such as “Does Gumball believe in God”? (Answer: “Does Gumball exist?)

“Creature Commandos”

Set to premiere on Max, written by James Gunn, co-CEO of the rebranded DC Studios from Nov. 2022, a seven-episode animated series based on the DC comic book, seen via model sheets of the character designs – of a black ops unit made up of monsters – in highly crafted period comic book colors. highly crafted.  “Creature Commandos” looks set to kick off Gunn and Peter Saffron’s new DC Cinematic Universe with big features crossing over with TV shows, animation and video games. One instance, cited by Giraldi: With “Creature Commandos” leading into “Superman Legacy,” the live action theatrical feature, “We’ve cast the voices of these characters knowing that they will recreate their characters in live action as well.”

“Invincible Fight Girl”

Cartoon Network Studios aims to deliver new original talent. Juston Gordon-Montgomery’s hardly new, having directed “DC Super Hero Girls,” but this original series proved one of the session’s favourites. “It’s gonna blow your mind. It’s funny, it’s exciting. The action sequences are next level,” said Diehl. “Invincible Fight Girl” turns on a girl born into a family of accountants in a world where most everybody wrestles, and she dreams of becoming the greatest pro wrestler of all time. One scene, seen in animatics, played to raucous laughters and whoops of applause. 

“Bubble Brains”

Confirmed at Annecy to be in production, retitled from “Porky and Daffy.” Essentially a buddy movie between the two who have to stop an alien invasion, seen at Annecy in a first-look extended clip in which Porky, who likes their house to be spic and span, informing Daffy, who has slept in the bath, that they will be subjected to a household standards inspection.   

“Little Merry Batman”

A holiday movie, seen again at Annecy in a brand new excerpt with Batman’s little son left home alone as goblin villains invade the mansion. Poor goblins. Having earned his spurs, he teams with his dad, Bruce Wayne, in a series, “Bat-Family,” as a crime fighting duo presented at Annecy via a concept art photo of dad, bearded, and son, and an aged long-suffering Alfred. 

Batman Caped Crusader

“Batman: Caped Crusader”

One of the most awaited of Warner Bros Animation series, given its creative pedigree – Bruce Timm, J. J. Abrams, and Matt Reeves – and its declared ambitions. “It’s everything that Bruce Timm wanted to do in the original series [the 1992 “Batman, the Animated Series”] but because it ran on a kid’s channel, he wasn’t able to do it. So this definitely skews older. It’s more of his complete vision,” said Giraldi. Very early footage at Annecy – the very first to be seen, currently unlit, suggested the series will be ultra-noir, with a series of character designs playing at Annecy to a pumping full orchestra score that suggested a brooding tone and a sense of the near psychotic in characters’ psychology.  

“The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim”

From New Line Cinema and Warner Bros, Animation. Director Kenji Kamiyama commented at a behind-the-scenes presentation on Tuesday in Annecy that the fact that the action in the animated feature takes place 200 years before Peter Jackson’s film series allowed him to bring his own imprint into the series. A sizzle reel shown at the studio focus captured the hero galloping across plains and a bloody battle, blood pouring don an elephant’s buttocks and an archer shot in the head by an arrow which emerges the other side of his skull. The immediate impression is that “War of the Rohirrm” could please two distinct, but sometimes overlapping, fan bases: Anime’s in the flatter 2D style character design and camera angles: and Jackson’s films fanbase in movie’s sets and visuals reminiscent of Jackson’s iconic film series. 


Ben Croll contributed to this article.


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