INTERVIEW WITH CRISTIANA BUZZELLI

LM talked to Cristiana Buzzelli, SVP, Content & Consumer Products Licensing at Rainbow SpA

Rainbow is set to present many new shows that will be among the highlights of next season.

Series 44 Cats is an extraordinary pre-school success. Can you tell us the latest news?

The series continues to enjoy excellent ratings on RAI YOYO in Italy and impressive numbers on YouTube, where we have almost reached half a million views for the channel. The show is available from July on Netflix and will also be available on Amazon’s Prime video service in the coming months. There are over 30 licensees already on board and we can also announce a live show, from 2 November, touring to the main Italian cities. Some products are already on the shelves, such as books from Mondadori. These entered the bestseller charts on the first week of launch. Simba’s toys have enjoyed an excellent retail response and the magazine is among the best sellers in the category with over 30,000 copies sold per month. In the wake of these first data, we have already started production on the second season, which will probably be ready for launch in Q1 2020.

Winx, is a great classic. It’s also evolving! Tell us about the live action version.

The live action series is a natural evolution based on the success of the long-running Winx animated series. Fans around the world who watched the first series of Winx in 2004 are now in their 20s, and so the series is ready to become a live-action property aimed at a young adult audience. It will embrace both existing fans, and a new audience that, with its strong reach, Netflix can attract. The series will be shot in English and launched in over 190 countries worldwide at the same time.

On the live front, you have also launched the brand-new live-action Club 57…

Rainbow is a studio that combines experience in animation with the creative skills needed for live action. Club 57 is a series co-produced with Nickelodeon that Rai was keen to undertake following on from the success of Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends. The idea is highly original. It’s based on the concept of time travel with the protagonists finding themselves catapulted into the 1950s. In addition to music and dance, both contemporary and from the 1950s, the themes of science and technology are touched on for the first time in a live action series. As well as Italy’s Rai Gulp, the series is being aired in Latin America and other European countries.

Among your other innovations is SOS PETS. What is it about?

SOS Pets is a new IP that shows that Rainbow is focused on all-round creativity – and not linked exclusively to the world of television or the big screen. SOS Pets was born as digital content – a web series composed of short animated clips whose protagonists are small animals. The brand has already become a toy line of 48 collectible animals which combine surprise – and the unboxing factor – with collectability.

Rainbow is always an exhibitor at MIPCOM and this year has brought some important news. What was it about?

We presented two new animated series, both related to universal themes, and both with CGI animation. One is a new and contemporary series inspired by Pinocchio for an audience of four to eight years. The other is a series dedicated to the world of the farm, seen through the eyes of children, with animals as stars. It is a theme familiar to children aged two to five, but also dear to parents – and without geographical boundaries.

Rainbow is among the most important global licensors. At what stage is your international development today?

Rainbow has always looked at the world as its own market, focusing on investments in high-quality series production even in the most sophisticated markets, such as the United States or non-European countries. In particular, 44 Cats has undisputed top-level television coverage and we’re very proud that not only have many particularly demanding television networks acquired the series (Super RTL in Germany, France TV, Nickelodeon in the USA, POP in the UK , etc) but also that the series has performed exceptionally well in countries where broadcasting has already started. In the current framework, Russia is a consolidated market for us, Latin America is growing both for Winx and 44 Cats, and we have important expectations for both English-speaking countries and the countries of central Europe (such as France and Germany).

Last but not least, you are also a licensing agency for third parties. What are the properties that you represent in this capacity and what trends do they reflect?

We do not represent many properties, but we do select quality projects for which we can find the right space in our brand portfolio and to which we can pay the utmost attention. Today we represent Gorjuss by Santoro, which is a leader in the lifestyle sector, and Diabolik, which is a great series of Italian classic comics for adults and young adults.They will have a particularly high profile next year due to the launch of the Diabolik film through Rai Cinema. In animation, we are also agents for Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty, an American animated series for kids aged six to 11 years old, note worthy for its humour and broadcast on Nickelodeon around the world.

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