Reinvention has been a buzzword in children’s TV circles in the past few years, with various brands being retooled and returning to screens. Netflix has got in on the trend with its reboot of 1980s brand The Popples.
The streaming service recently licensed a 26x30mins animated series from Saban Brands. It follows on from a 1986-87 Saturday morning US series, with France’s ZAG Entertainment attached as a coproducer.
Saban, which acquired The Popples from American Greetings, is now taking it to market as a flagship property for its new sales wing, which Fred Soulie is heading up as senior VP, global distribution.
The Popples toon will be a comedy featuring five multicoloured, marsupial-like creatures (BPPs, or ‘Best Popple Pals’) who live in Popplopolis. “It’s about these five friends, three female and two male, who try to help but often end up causing more trouble,” says Soulie.
He adds the brand, which was born as a plush toy for girls in the era of Care Bears and similar properties, will be more genre-balanced in its new form, with Spin Master Entertainment creating a new toy line that will still have a slight girls skew.
For Netflix, Soulie says the brand represented a clear opportunity and he suggests it could perform similarly for other channels. “If you look at Netflix’s order of originals, this hits on all levels for them,” he says. “They are looking for IP with legs and this clearly meant something to them – many of their executives could have been watching it growing up.”
Saban will be in Cannes with the half-hour version and a reformatted 52x11mins format. ZAG has French rights.
The show: The Popples
The producers: Saban Brands, ZAG Entertainment
The distributors: Saban Brands, ZAG Entertainment (France)
The broadcaster: Netflix (international)
The concept: Animated reworking of the Popples heritage brand