Despite the recent company shakeup that has animators fearing for their jobs, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim president Michael Ouweleen assures naysayers that the animation division is not dead.
Despite the recent Warner Bros. Discovery shakeup that had animators shaking in their boots, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim president Michael Ouweleen assures naysayers that the animation division is not dead.
“It was weird to wake up a couple of weeks ago and read our obituary as we were alive,” said Ouweleen to Variety, whose oversight also includes Boomerang and Discovery Family. “We’ve got more stuff coming next year than we had this year.”
One such project that remains very much alive is most-watched HBO Max original preschool series Batwheels, which has been renewed for a second season. The hugely popular show catapulted to number one after its Season 1 premiere – on Cartoon Network for boys ages two-five and HBO Max across all preschool series. DC’s first-ever Batman preschool show features a high-speed, vibrant CGI-animated iteration of the Caped Crusader. Michael G. Stern and Simon J. Smith will be upped to executive producers and continue to helm the animated action-comedy for the new season. Superprod Studio and Snowball Studios provide animation services.
“It’s been a joyride seeing how Batwheels resonated with audiences and in such a short amount of time,” said Ouweleen. “Reimagining Batman’s iconic mythos for preschoolers using beloved and original characters has been a creative feat that we will definitely lean into as we expand into a second season.”
A half-hour holiday special, “Holidays on Ice,” is now available to watch on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network and HBO Max. New episodes from the first season will continue to air next year.
Unfortunately, the Warner Bros. Discovery decision to merge development for Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation under a single entity has not benefitted other animated offerings.
In addition to the cancellation of Tuca & Bertie at Adult Swim, HBO Max axed six upcoming animated series, including Batman: Caped Crusader, Merry Little Batman, The Day the Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie, Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical, Did I Do That to The Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story, and The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie. This departure leaves the responsibility to provide kids and family projects squarely on the shoulders of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
“The go-forward notion is Cartoon and Adult Swim will be the main source of animation at Max and we’re gearing up to share with them all the stuff we have in development right now,” Ouweleen added. “We talk to those guys every week, pretty much and coordinate and plan our activity together.”
Other greenlit shows in the children’s animation sector are Cartoon Network’s preschool series Bugs Bunny Builders and Sesame Street Mecha Builders, as well as new seasons of Craig of the Creek, We Baby Bears and Teen Titans Go!. Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Unicorn: Warriors Eternal, The Heroic Quest of Valiant Prince Ivandoe, Iyanu: Child of Wonder, and My Adventures with Superman are also set to premiere, with new episodes of Summer Camp Island and Jellystone coming soon.
“When we get out of thinking of Cartoon Network as just living and dying based on kid revenue, it actually frees us up to do more stuff and lean into really what our core always was, which is, let’s advance what the animation art form can do, and create iconic stuff,” Ouweleen concludes.