Cartoon Network will debut its first original movie Dec. 8, but there won't be a lot of animation in it.
The network's Re-Animated film will combine animation with live-action content — one of several such programs that are currently in development at the channel, according to Cartoon Network president Jim Samples.
The movie, which follows the exploits of a young brain transplantee who can see cartoon characters in the real world, is the first original film produced exclusively for Cartoon Network. The network is known for original series such as Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends.
“It's one of the shows where all the great things that can happen in a cartoon are also happening in this live-action world,” he said. “It felt right with the brand and felt that this was the time to do it.”
The network is hoping the movie, which stars Dominic Janes (ER) and features the voices of Paul Reubens and Tom Kenny, can become a mainstay on the network and its other platforms, such as its broadband site.
“The ultimate success is not the rating that you get on the night of the premiere, but whether or not it passes into being part of the fabric of the network,” Samples said. “I would like to see this as an event on Cartoon Network that kids remember and talk about, because if we re-air it or create online activities around it, kids see that as part of the network.”
Samples said the network experimented with combinations of live-action/animated programming during its early years. But Cartoon has subsequently stayed away from creating shows entirely in the live-action format, so as not to confuse the brand.
For this movie, Samples said he's not concerned about alienating the network's core fan base, which expects to see animation. In fact, he said that a majority of Cartoon's viewers actually want to see more live-action programming on the network.
“We've aired [live-action] movies, like Spider-Man, from time to time that we felt were right for our sensibilities,” he said. “Those movies have had a tieback to the cartoon and the comic-book world, and the kids love it.”
To that end, the network has several shows in the development pipeline that are either full live-action content or a combination of animation and live action.
“Most of the stuff coming through the pipeline is animation,” he said. “But you shouldn't be surprised to see more live-action programming, but we're predominately an animated network and that's not changing anytime soon.”
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