Disney President and Chief Creative Officer Gary Marsh launched Monday’s TCA panel by riffing on NBC helmer Robert Greenblatt’s earlier announcement that his own network “had a bad fall,” then reeled off a laundry list of Disney’s 2011 successes:
- Disney Channel No.1 with kids ages 6-11 for the first time in 16 years.
- No. 3 with kids 9-14 for the third year in a row.
- 9.8 million viewers for Friday’s Wizards of Waverly Place premiere.
- The highest-rated year across the board for all Disney platforms and brands.
…and on and on.
And the ball is already rolling for an equally record-breaking 2012. Marsh announced an omnibus distribution deal between The Walt Disney Company and Comcast. “As part of Disney’s comprehensive TV plus initiative, our Disney Channel suite of programs will be available and accessible on laptops, on smartphones, on tablets as well as linear feeds, and as VOD streams to all Comcast, Xfinity subscribers,” Marsh said. “This is truly groundbreaking, especially for our viewers who, as digital natives, live with, by, and for their digital technology.”
And this doesn’t just mean the little guys. Teens and dads are sure to want in on a number of new programs soon to air on Disney XD.
Marsh also announced that the two-year-old partnership between The Walt Disney Company and Marvel has produced a new, Marvel-branded block of programming on Disney XD called “Marvel Universe,” which will launch April 1. And the first Superhero out of the Disney XD gate is none other than Spiderman. Ultimate Spiderman, to be exact.
“The new Spider Man will feature a teenage Peter Parker [voiced by] Drake Bell,” Marsh said. “But this time, he’s no longer going it alone. Rather, as the newest member of Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, he finds himself on a team with four other teenage Marvel superheroes. So he’s got White Tiger, Iron Fist, Power Man and Nova. Now, this has implications for Spidey, of course, because it means for the first time, while he’s losing his independence, he’s gaining a cadre of crime fighting cohorts.”
Also several years in the making is the network’s TRON: Uprising, which combines traditional 2-D animation with 3-D CGI animation Marsh says will revolutionize television animation. “And luckily, we’ve been able to use the same writers, the same producers, and some of the same vehicle designers who’ve created the images for the feature film in the series,” Marsh added.
TRON: Uprising will take place in the time frame between the original TRON movie and last year’s TRON: Legacy. “Tron has been badly injured by villainous Clu, but he has found a protege, a brilliant young mechanic, another program like himself, named Beck, voiced by Elijah Wood, who TRON decides he is going to train to be the next TRON,” Marsh explains.
Marsh says the series will roll out in a ten-part micro-sode approach which will begin airing three minute pieces in April. The full series will launch in June.
“When boys dream, this is what they dream about,” March concluded.
Also joining Ultimate Spiderman and TRON: Uprising on the spring Disney XD schedule is Motorcity, a sort of Speedracer-meets-Fast and Furious animated series set in the underground of Detroit which will launch in June, and Lab Rats, a blended-family sitcom in which 14-year-old Leo Dooley discovers his super-rich stepdad is creating Leo’s step-sibs in a lab.
Photo credit: Disney XD