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Turner Ups European Investment, Reveals ‘Gumball’ Puppets at Annecy (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 6/13/2017 Stewart Clarke

Turner said it has ramped up investment in European production by 30% in the past year and has also taken its biggest international original, “The Amazing World of Gumball,” in a new direction, with a puppet-based episode of the show that it will reveal at Annecy.

The puppet-based installment of “Gumball” will go out during season five of the show and also be the inspiration for a series of shortform spin-offs. Recently-minted U.K. producer Blink Industries is making “The Puppets” and the shortform content, which will be directed by BAFTA-nominated Simon Cartwright (“Manoman”) and Baker Terry (“Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared”).

Annecy attendees will get an exclusive first-look at “The Puppets” at Annecy during a session at the festival looking at “Gumball.” The series is a mix of 2D and 3D animation with live-action elements, allowing the producers to work with a range of other creatives, such as Japan’s Studio 4°C, whom they teamed with on an anime episode entitled “The Fury.”

At the Annecy panel Becky & Joe, creators of hit YouTube series “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared,” will speak about their work on “The Puppets.” Ben Bocquelet, creator of “Gumball” and series director, Mic Graves, will also be in attendance.

The focus on “Gumball” comes as Turner ramps up investment in international programming, with spend on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in Europe up 30% in 2016-17. The U.S. company’s kids channels benefit from a strong pipeline of toons from Burbank-based Cartoon Network Studios and from Warner Bros., but it has been adding to its line-up of internationally sourced and produced programming, with “Gumball” the standout example. Season six of the show is in pre-production.

Annecy and MIFA are also recruitment grounds for the studios, and Turner holds a Picnic by the Lake event that allows students to meet its talent and creatives.

“We’re continuing to look for great animation talent to work on Gumball season six, as well as our many different productions across the globe, and we’re excited to once again host our highly anticipated Picnic by the Lake, which is a fantastic opportunity for students to network and connect with key people from our studios,” said Patricia Hidalgo, chief content officer, Turner EMEA Kids & International Kids Strategy.

The original content drive extends beyond Europe, with a series of shorts, “Bill and Tony,” screening in competition at Annecy.

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