Spin Master, the large toy, game and kids-TV conglomerate has helped build franchises out of concepts like “PAW Patrol” and “Bakugan Battle Brawlers.’ Now the company thinks it can do the same with a group of young girls who have a knack for riding unicorns.
The company and Netflix plan to launch a new fantasy-adventure series, “Unicorn Academy.” Based on a series of books by author Julie Sykes, the animated series will launch with a 72-minute movie premiere and subsequent episodes, all slated for release this fall, followed by a toy line, digital game and licensed consumer product rollout in 2024. Spin Master Entertainment has content planned through 2025, with more than 250 minutes of short and long-form features produced to date including original shorts and music videos.
“This is the biggest animated series we’ve ever made, for sure,” says Jennifer Dodge, Spin Master’s president of entertainment, in an interview. The executives says the company felt the “Unicorn Academy” series would play well to young girls over the age of six, but also have appeal for younger children and even pre-teens and teens, depending on how they find out about the franchise. “From a production standpoint, it’s certainly our largest and most ambitious series to date,” she says. “We are really setting out to create something big and special, something that is going to last for a long time.”
The series follows the character Sophia and the rest of the freshman class of the Unicorn Academy boarding school. Each student must bond with a unicorn to unlock magical powers. and help protect their island home — all while balancing classwork and navigating new friendships.
“Our team has done an amazing job of bringing the magic of Unicorn Academy across all play patterns,” says Max Rangel, Spin Master’s Global President and CEO, in a prepared statement. “We want to be where kids are; whether it’s in toy boxes, on their TV screens, or on digital devices, Unicorn Academy will be there to ignite, engage and inspire new fans. Kids are going to fall in love with the experience of connecting with the characters and entering the world of Unicorn Island. This is our biggest production to date because we truly believe this will resonate with a generation of kids on various play platforms.”
Spin Master has been working on the franchise since 2018, since Dodge, when it first became aware of the books. Viewers will notice “a high bar for animation,” she says, that has bespoke details for each unicorn and each girl in the series’ cast. The company already had properties aimed at pre-school viewers and others tailored for young boys, but noting that aimed to attract young girls.
The company turned to Netflix in part because the streamer has expertise with several fantasy adventure series and young audience. Viewers may be attracted to the diversity of the main group of characters, says Dodge, but also by the way the creators balance the adventure genre wtih a feel for the modern day, “We make it feel mystical and have a sense of history, without making it feel medieval,” she says. “These are very modern girls that all kids will relate to today, but in a very magical place.”,
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