The Talking Tom app is the sixth-most-downloaded ever on the iPhone and the tenth most on the iPad. It is now set for TV.
The app was created by developer Outfit7 and is one of only two to have been downloaded over a billion times, alongside Angry Birds, which has already had its cartoon makeover. However, Screen 21, the Spanish producer making the Talking Tom show, is aiming for a different look with a full-length CGI comedy series.
Barcelona-based Screen 21’s sister company BRB Internacional is distributing the series, and CEO Carlos Biern says the coproduction followed discussions with Outfit7 that started last year.
With the app boasting 230 million active users, Biern says there is a wealth of consumer opinion to aid development of the series. “There is a direct relationship with people using the app and we can use that feedback rather than testing or doing a pilot,” he adds.
In the show Tom and his friends Hank, Angela, Ben and Ginger build and work out of a basement studio making, appropriately, entertainment apps. The animated show is set in a fictional sunny, coastal city and secondary characters include the cats’ long-suffering neighbour, rival talking cat Tim and a fan who is jealous of Tom’s friends and obsessed with him.
With a core target of 6-to-10s, Biern says that by including edgy and absurd comedy, the show will also pull in a wider audience in the same way as the app.
He likens the humour to some of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons and notes that there will be US and Canadian writers attached.
The series has a budget of €5.1 million (US$7.1 million). Production is slated to start this autumn, making autumn 2015 a realistic launch date for broadcasters. In addition to the core 11-minute episodes, which broadcasters will likely run back to back to fill a commercial half-hour, there will be 26 shortform web episodes.
Outfit7’s London team, headed by COO and ex-HIT Entertainment senior VP Alessandro Traverso, will retain the rights to the online-specific content.
BRB, best known for shows such as Suckers and Angus & Cheryl, is building on its digital experience with the Invizimals series based on the Sony video games of the same name and which had augmented reality components.
All TV rights sit with BRB, with Outfit7 taking charge of licensing and merchandising. There were a few minutes of animation available for buyers at MIPTV, and Biern says following the announcement of the show in March, buyers in Italy, Scandinavia and the Middle East have expressed an interest.
The show: Talking Tom and Friends
The distributor: BRB Internacional
The producer: Screen 21
The concept: Animated series based on the hugely successful My Talking Tom app