Connect with us

Merchandise

Marvel Animation bets big on shorts as it launches the second season of its Funko-inspired comic match-ups

Published

on

Marvel Funko Shorts
Listen to the Article

Marvel Entertainment has long been celebrated for its ability to weave these epic-length narratives that can then play out across multiple motion pictures, TV shows and comic books.

Copyright Marvel Studios. All rights reserved

So if length really plays to this studios’ storytelling strength, why then is Marvel Animation headed in the opposite direction? Creating a series of stand-alone, 90-second long shorts that – rather than putting Marvel’s super heroes through their usual action-adventure paces – opt to shine a spotlight on these characters’ more comic side?

“It’s all about new formats, new audiences,” explained Cort Lane, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Animation & Family Entertainment. “That’s been our mission statement for this past year here at Marvel. I mean, we obviously have the affinity of our core target audiences. We have those people who already love our characters, go to see our movies or are aware of them. But we wanted to do something that would possibly help Marvel reach a broader audience. And we thought that comedy might be the way to get there.”

Mind you, what spurred Cort & Co. to initially explore this idea was this series of animated promos that Funko created for its Marvel Collector Corps subscription boxes.

Copyright Marvel / Funko. All rights reserved

“These promos were created by this tiny little studio in the U.K. called A Large Evil Corporation. And the folks who work there, they are very inventive and have a great comedy sensibility,” Lane enthused. “Even though the Funko versions of our characters don’t have mouths, A Large Evil Corporation was still able to animate these very simple versions of the Marvel characters in a way that was very expressive and highly entertaining.”

So – building on A Large Evil Corporation’s previously existing relationship with Funko – Marvel Animation launched a trial balloon late last year. They put together a trio of shorts that were basically expanded versions of those animated promos for the Marvel Collector Corps subscription box scripts.

The first of these shorts (i.e., “Spellbound.” Which debuted online back on November 30th of last year and starred the Funko versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man & Loki) was viewed 600,000+ times. By the time the third in this series (i.e., “Chimichangas.” Which featured Funko’s versions of Deadpool & Venom fighting in & around a food truck) bowed on December 14, 2016, these shorts were now getting 4 million views. Which is when Marvel Animation decided to go all in with its comic shorts initiative.

Copyright Marvel / Funko. All rights reserved

“Our thinking was – by placing these comedy short form pieces across multiple platforms – we’d then be able to reach a broader audience. Getting all the eyeballs that we might not traditionally get through our animated series. Which – while they have been doing well on Disney XD — have been more boy-targeted,” Cort stated. “By deliberately making these pieces only 90 seconds long, that then makes it possible for these comedy shorts to go on social media, to be put up on YouTube. Which then makes it possible for them to reach an exponentially larger audience.”

Ironically enough, though it obviously doesn’t take as much effort to craft a scenario for a 90-second long comedy short as it does to write a teleplay for a 22-minute long episode of an animated series or the screenplay for a feature-length film, Lane still insists that a lot of thought & effort goes into each o these short form pieces.

“Creating fully formed, independent little stories that can actually be told in 90 seconds requires a lot of discipline and some really tight storytelling,” Cort said. “You’d think that – given that the Funko versions of our characters don’t have mouths – they’d then be easier to animate. But they really aren’t. And given that A Large Evil Corporation has such a small staff of animators … Well, we had to be careful. Make sure that we didn’t overwhelm that studio by sending them too many shorts to work on at any one time. Allow them to turn each of these short form pieces into a comedy gem.”

The first of these gems which were created for Season 2 of this series – “Cosmic Sleigh Ride” – can be seen below:

“For Season 2, we’ll be ultimately be releasing eight of these comedy shorts. Some will be synergistic. ‘Cosmic Sleigh Ride’ – which features the Funk versions of Star-Lord, Rocket and Taserface — is bowing now because the Blu-ray / DVD version of “Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol 2″ hit store shelves a few weeks back,” Lane explained. “While other shorts in this series will premiere online when buzz is building around a particular character. Our ultimate goal here is to give our audience more of what it wants. Which – in this case – is connecting with the characters, but connecting in a different way. With comedy. And in a different format.”

So does Cort have a favorite among the eight new short form comedy pieces that will be debuting online as part of Season 2?

“From a storytelling perspective, there’s one coming up with Hulk and Black Widow that’s a personal favorite of mine which plays on their interesting relationship. I love those two characters because there’s such contrast there,” Lane teased. “I don’t want to reveal too much about this comedy short in advance. What I will say is that they’re on a spy mission and Hulk isn’t so great at spy missions.”

Copyright Marvel Entertainment. All rights reserved

So what with this “new formats, new audiences” initiative, should fans of Disney XD series like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” be concerned? Cort says no.

“Moving into shorts is obviously a big shift for us. But we’re still in the business of creating long form animation. That said, all of the diverse platform opportunities that you get with short form really open you up to new audiences. And we’ll continue to explore that opportunity with things like our pre-school series, the Marvel Super Hero Adventures. Those will be a series of 3 & ½ minute shorts that will be coming out soon,” Lane concluded. “So, as you can see, we’re stretching. We’re committed to exploring short form as a format because the kind of audience that you can potentially get out of it is so significant.”

And that’s the long & the short of what Marvel Animation is doing with its new short form comedy pieces. 

Mm

This piece was originally published by the Huffington Post on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Merchandise

“Let It Go” gets the LEGO treatment as a whole new Disney “Frozen” story unfolds across books, TV & digital with “Frozen Northern Lights”

Published

on

Listen to the Article

What with “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” opening in late May at Disney California Adventure Park and Epcot‘s “Frozen Ever After” attraction opening its doors later this morning, Anna & Elsa have had a very busy month.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So what will these Scandinavian sisters be doing for an encore? Would you believe joining forces with the LEGO Group? Anna & Elsa – along with Kristoff, Olaf & Sven – will be starring in four new “Frozen” animated shorts that will air on the Disney Channel. Not only that, but these new LEGO shorts will be based on a brand-new published-by-Random-House story, “Frozen Northern Lights.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The fun officially gets underway in July as “Frozen” fans can once again return to the kingdom of Arendelle thanks to a cleverly interconnected collection of books, animated shorts from the LEGO group as well as digital games & activities.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“So what awaits ‘Frozen’ fans once they return to Arendelle?,” you ask. “Frozen Northern Lights” tells the story of Little Rock, one of those trolls that adopted young Kristoff & Sven in the original “Frozen” film. Little Rock needs help earning his tracking crystal. So Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven & Olaf join this tiny troll on an epic mountain adventure to restore the glimmer of the Northern Lights.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The hardcover novelization of this story — “Disney Frozen Northern Lights: Journey to the Lights” – will hit store shelves next month. As for those four animated shorts, the LEGO Group will definitely be bringing its unique style of animation and quirky sense of humor to the world of “Frozen.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And did I mention that the vocal talent from the original Disney “Frozen” will be returning to reprise their roles? Or that a full compilation of all four of the LEGO “Frozen Northern Lights” shorts will air on the Disney Channel later this Fall?

So are you ready to see “Let It Go” get the LEGO treatment?

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post’s Entertainment page on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Continue Reading

Merchandise

“Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls” coming to America

Published

on

Listen to the Article

If you’ve been watching Disney XD lately OR If you’ve been in a Target, a Walmart, a Hot Topic OR anywhere that sells video games … Heck, if you’ve been around a group of kids lately, chances are you’ve heard of Yo-Kai Watch.

Initially released in Japan by Level-5 in 2013, just last year the first of Yo-Kai Watch games were translated and brought over for American audiences. In Japan, the game was a huge, bombastic hit. And why not? The creatures within the game were based on characters from popular Japanese stories. The kappa, the nekomata, and the kitsune, just to name a few. Via use of their Yo-Kai Watch, the main character — Nate in the English version — is able to see the invisible Yo-Kai, who haunt and inspirit the world around them.

Given it was so rooted in Japanese culture, it was thought that this series would have an uphill battle once it arrived in the US. But luckily, Yo-Kai Watch wound up with an extremely solid viewership on Disney XD. And the game — despite a demo that was sort of ‘eh’ — was a really inspired, beautifully detailed, fun game. The writing in the game really held it up, despite the battles sometimes becoming repetitive. Overall, it was a fantastic, moving experience to play.

So imagine how excited I was to see that the long-awaited sequel was finally announced. English fans had been campaigning under the hashtag ‘#LocalizeYW2’ passionately, and it seems they’ve been heard. Or the game sold enough. Or hey, probably both. “Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls” will be arriving in America on the 3DS on September 30th, 2016. 

Kind of an odd name, right? Well, there’s going to be two versions. If you’re familiar with Pokemon (And sorry. it’s a bit of a sore point when Yo-Kai Watch is brought up next to Pokemon. But sometimes comparisons need to be made) you probably are aware of the fact that typically two versions of one game are released — Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, X and Y, etc. Well, that’s what’s happening here. The game introduces 184 new Yo-Kai, and some are split between the two versions of the game. There’s also different quests, and different exclusive DLC add-ons between the two.

With new merch coming out, and the sequel on the horizon, it seems Yo-Kai Watch is really picking up speed here in North America. If you’d like to check out this phenomenon, “Yo-Kai Watch” airs weekdays at 5 p.m. on Disney XD

Continue Reading

Merchandise

Disney isn’t horsing around when it comes to Sofia the First toys

Published

on

Sofia the First Toys
Listen to the Article

Pam dropped me a note on Wednesday to ask:

I was wondering if anyone knows whether or not Disney will
start producing Minimus the flying horse from Sophia The First in a figure form
for the public to be able to purchase?


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

You’re talking — of course — about the character that was
introduced in “One of the Princes,” the very first episode of “Sofia
the First” to air on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. And to my way
of thinking, there are two reasons that Minimus made such a big impression on
viewers of this new animated series. One was Eric Stonestreet, the Emmy
Award-winning
star of ABC‘s “Modern Family,” who did such a nice job
when it came to voicing this overly-anxious flying horse.


Eric Stonestreet in the studio
recording Minimus’ dialogue.  Photo by
Rick Rowell.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And the other is that Minimus arrived on the scene at a time
when the viewing public is very interested in talking cartoon horses (Thanks —
in large part — to “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”).


Copyright Hasbros. All rights
reserved

But here’s the thing. Pam. When the folks at Disney Consumer Products were initially looking at “Sofia the First” to try and
determine which characters viewers of this new Disney Channel / Disney Junior
series might be interested in, given that Sofia mostly interacts with her
animal friends, Clover the rabbit, Whatnaught the squirrel, Robin the robin and
Mia the blue bird …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… her new step-siblings Prince James and Princess Amber


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… and her teachers at Royal Prep, Flora, Fauna and
Merryweather (i.e. the three good fairies from Walt Disney Productions’ 1959
release, “Sleeping Beauty“) …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… those then became the characters that Disney Consumer
Products decided to feature in the first “Sofia
the First” playset …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… the initial pieces of clothing …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… and sleepware …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… with ties to this new Disney Channel / Disney Junior
series. And seeing as the “Sofia
the First” characters began appearing in the Disney theme parks two weeks
ago in puppet form (as part of the newly revised “Disney Junior — Live on Stage!”
show
) …


Photo by Gene Duncan. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

… and the DVD & Blu-ray version of “Once Upon a
Princess

” (i.e. the original television animated movie that introduced the
“Sofia the First”
characters to Disney Junior viewers back on November 18, 2012. Which — thanks to the 5.2 million
people who tuned in — then became the #1 cable TV telecast of 2012 among Kids
2-5 and Girls 2-5) hitting store shelves next Tuesday …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… you can expect that consumer interest in this new hot
set of Disney Junior characters will just continue to grow. Which — given that
Disney Stores all over the country are reporting that they’ve already
completely sold out of the Sofia
the First Costumes for Girls …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… the Sofia
the First Necklaces for Girls …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… and the Sofia
the First Tiaras for Girls …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… that they had in stock … Well, you just know that
somewhere deep inside the Mouse House, there are Disney Consumer Products reps
who are doing the happy dance right about now.

You want proof that “Sofia
the First” is now a big, fat monstrous hit for the Mouse? Check out the
first “Sofia the First” knock-off product (i.e. this booklet of
Princess Sofia Glitter Paper Dolls) …


Copyright Award Publications
Ltd. All rights reserved

… which Award Publications Ltd. sent out into the world
back in January.

Mind you, most of the products that I’ve described so far were
Disney Store and DisneyStore.com exclusives. More to the point, they were sent
out into the world before “Sofia
the First” actually began airing on the Disney Channel Friday mornings
from 9:30-10:00 a.m. ET/PT and then on
Disney Junior Friday afternoons from 5:30-6:00 p.m.,
ET/PT.

But starting in June & July, there’s a second wave of
“Sofia the First” product
heading into stores. Nancy and I actually got the chance to check a few of
these out last month when we went to NYC to cover the 2013 edition of the American
International Toy Fair. And the Disney Sofia the First Magical Talking Castle


Photo by Nancy Stadler

… and the Disney Sofia the First Talking Sofia and Animal
Friends playset …


Photo by Nancy Stadler

… that Mattel is building will be available for purchase
at all manner of major retailers later this summer. Among them WalMart, Target
and Toys R Us.

But that wasn’t what you asked, was it, Pam? You wanted to
know about the Minimus character from Disney’s “Sofia
the First.” Specifically whether any toys which replicate this overly-anxious
flying horse are headed to the marketplace anytime soon.

Well, I am pleased to report that — starting in June —
Mattel will be putting a Minimus and Sofia playset out there.


Copyright Disney Enterprises
/ Mattel, Inc. All rights reserved

To be blunt, the likeness to Minimus isn’t as good as it could
have been …


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. all rights reserved

… but it’s not bad for a first effort. Plus this playset
will feature Sofia in her Royal
Prep flying-horse-racing outfit. Which will be a nice break from that purple
ball gown you always seem to see Sofia
wearing

Also according to what my sources at the Disney Channel told
me just this morning, a Minimus plush will be hitting store shelves about the
same time that the Minimus-and-Sofia playset does. And (in an even better bit of news
for you & your family) Minimus is a recurring character on “Sofia
the First.” Which means that you can expect to see even more episodes featuring this
overly-anxious flying horse popping up on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior
in the not-so-distant future.


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

So as you can see, The Walt Disney Company isn’t horsing
around when it comes to finding ways to cash in on its new Disney Channel &
Disney Junior hit, “Sofia the First.”

And just so you know, that walk-around version of Sofia
which made a brief appearance in the 29th Annual Disney Parks Christmas Day
Parade


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… is expected to begin appearing in the parks
sometime later this year. Though the way I hear it, the first place that this
walk-around version of Disney’s first little girl princess is expected to turn
up is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Where Sofia
will soon be joining Jake the Neverland pirate, Handy Manny and Agent Oso at
the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine experience. Which is offered at this DHS’s Hollywood
& Vine restaurant
at breakfast and lunch time.

How do I know that?


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

A little talking birdie told me.

Your thoughts?

Continue Reading

Trending