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Sun and Sand Down Under

Another item we’ve missed, brought to our attention by Animation World Network. Time to catch up! “Cheeky Little Media has announced that ABC Kids has greenlit a second season of the popular Australian 3D animated TV series, Kangaroo Beach. The second season will offer more beach-based fun adventures with the four cadets: Pounce, Frizzy, Neville, and Gemma, and continue to explore new water safety themes for preschoolers and their families… Key partners for the Season 2 include ABC, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), and Surf Life Saving Australia. ACTF will also distribute the series while Cheeky Little Commercial continues as the global brand manager. New consumer products for the franchise include a book series, kids’ swimwear and clothing, bedding, and toys.” As ever, merchandising!

image c. 2022 Cheeky Little Media

Move Along, Mate

We stumbled across this announcement from Deadline: Back To The Outback, a new animated feature due from Netflix in 2021. “In the movie, tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs. Leading the group is Maddie (Isla Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Guy Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them.” Hmm… sounds a bit like an Australian version of Disney’s The Wild — remember that one? Anyway, we’ll know more when Reel FX brings us the film next fall. (Can’t help wondering if some of this is about making up to Tim Minchin for his aborted film Larrikins.)

image c. 2020 Netflix

Australian Animals on the Big Screen

Cartoon Brew has an article about the first teaser trailer for the new CGI (of course) feature film version of Blinky Bill. Wot, ye’ve not ‘eard o’ Blinky Bill? He’s one of Australia’s most famous animated animals: A young koala with an adventurous attitude and a strong environmental heart. “Blinky Bill first rose to fame in the 1930s in a series of lavishly illustrated and conservation-themed books by Dorothy Wall. A new generation of children… was introduced to Blinky through the classic 1990s animated series The Adventures of Blinky Bill.” The new CGI film features Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Blinky Bill himself, while other Australian voices include Toni Collette and Barry Humphries (“Dame Edna”). The film is directed by Deane Taylor, who previously was art director on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Interestingly, the same article makes mention of another upcoming film called Larrikins, in production over at Dreamworks Animation and featuring contributions by musician & comedian Tim Minchin.Larrikins tells the story of an uptight bilby (a desert-dwelling marsupial), who has lived a sheltered life in the safety of his family burrow. When he ventures out and becomes privy to a dangerous secret, he finds himself launched on a musical adventure across the mystical and untamed Australian outback.” Larrikins was originally scheduled for a 2018 release, but there’s no word yet if all the recent shake-ups at Dreamworks will change that.

image c. 2015 Flying Bark Productions

image c. 2015 Flying Bark Productions

How to Train Your Live Dragon

Word has come out that a new stage show based on Dreamworks Animation’s award-winning How to Train Your Dragon film will be coming to Melbourne, Australia next March. The show features brand new characters, a brand new plot, and most interesting of all, full-sized free-walking audio-animatronic dragons. Here’s a quote from The Brisbane Times: “(There will be) at least 24 dragons for a show that will include acrobats and aerial artists, projections and flying creatures. The five-tier set will be backed by a 60-metre screen and the action will unfold on 1000 square metres of stage studded with projectors to provide an immersive experience”.  There’s already a YouTube video of a press presentation that was recently held to advertise the show. It shows one of the dragons (a Deadly Nadder, in this case) interacting with a human.


Wilfred is a Dog

How did we miss this department: Wilfred is an award-winning Australian TV comedy series, based on an also-award-winning 2002 short film. Created by Tony Rogers, Jason Gann, and Adam Zwar, it tells the story of an ordinary guy named Adam (played by Zwar)… ordinary that is, except for the fact that he sees his pretty neighbor Sarah’s dog Wilfred (played by Gann) as a man in a rather dumpy fur-suit… while everyone else sees him as an ordinary dog. Wilfred also talks to Adam, becoming something of a mentor… in so much as a foul-smelling, sexually un-repressed man/dog can be. In June of this year, a brand new American version of the series premiered on the FX network, with Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) starring as Adam, and Jason Gann reprising his role as Wilfred. Here’s the write-up of the original series on Wikipedia, with a link to the American series as well.


image c. 2010 SBS