Disney Junior is in production on its first original TV movie, a toon about a rubber ducky with a broken squeaker who’s trying to find a good home. Christian Borle, Megan Hilty and Tom Cavanaugh lead the voice cast for Lucky Duck, which is set to premiere in summer 2014 in the U.S. then go to Disney Junior channels around the world. Directed by Don Kim and written by Michael G. Stern, the pic follows Lucky (Borle), who fails an inspection at the toy factory but fortunately ends up in a shipping crate with approved toys. After accidentally being tossed off a cargo ship, the ducky teams with tub toys including a sassy hippo (Hilty) and apprehensive turtle (Cavanaugh) for an adventure. Irene Weibel and Colin Bohm are exec producing Lucky Duck, which is produced by Nelvana in association with Disney Junior.
There appears to be a trend here that might disturb studios that released family films with the expectation of seeing a windfall from licensed merchandise sales. The new pre-holiday recommendations from Toys ‘R Us (it lists its “Fabulous 15″) and Walmart (it has 23 items it says were “Chosen by Kids”) feature TV characters including Disney Junior’s Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Sesame Street’s Elmo. But when it comes to films, Toys ‘R Us suggests one from Universal’s Despicable Me 2, and Walmart has something from Disney’s Planes — but there’s nothing from DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo, Fox’s Epic, Pixar’s Monsters University, or Sony’s Smurfs 2. It’s a sign of a larger trend says International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association SVP Marty Brochstein. “TV seems to be grabbing more of the attention and shelf space,” he says. Some film properties were hurt by the summer’s animation glut.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. and BURBANK, Calif., May 9, 2013 — Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX) and The Disney/ABC Television Group (NYSE:DIS) today announced a new multi-year licensing agreement that will make Netflix the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for one of the most popular shows on Disney Junior, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, as well as fan favorite Disney XD show Tron: Uprising. In addition, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso and JoJo’s Circus will also be available for members in the U.S. to watch instantly later this month.
Disney said today that it is introducing a new princess fairytale line beginning next year with the launch of Sofia The First, which will premiere as an animated TV movie in fall 2012 and continue as a series set to bow in spring 2013 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior channels worldwide. It will be the first time among Disney’s storybook princesses franchises that the main character is a little girl, who is whisked off to a glamorous but often confusing castle world of royalty, pomp and new step-siblings after her mom marries the king. The idea is to target the preschool demo. “In Sofia, we have a ‘peer to peer princess,’ a relatable girl experiencing the same social issues as our young viewers – learning how to fit in, making new friends, conquering new skills and building sibling relationships,” said Nancy Kanter, SVP Original Programming and General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide. Ariel Winter (ABC’s Modern Family) will provide the voice of Sofia; the voice cast also includes Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) as Queen Miranda; Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) as Clover, a wise-talking rabbit; and Tim Gunn (Project Runway) as Baileywick, the family’s Royal Steward.