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Daffy Duck
The Loonatics

Release by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared:
A nnounced for september 2005
Discover the new Looney Tunes characters generation in the adventures of the Loonatics.

Six descendents of the original Looney Tunes crew will gain superpowers in Loonatics, a new franchise property coming to Kids WB this fall, the network announced today. The series is one of three new and four returning series that Kids WB announced for its 2005-06 season.

Set in the year 2772, Loonatics will be an "over-the-top, high-octane action-comedy" featuring revised versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner, Lola Bunny, Tasmanian Devil and Wile E. Coyote. Using special abilities and an irreverent sense of humor, the six will battle the evils of Acmetropolis. The series will air on Saturdays at 9:00am (ET/PT).

This morning's print edition of The Wall Street Journal quotes Warner Bros. Animation president Sander Schwartz as saying that reaction in test groups to the series has been "phenomenal."

Source Kids WB !

WB seeks revitalized cartoon franchise with new look for Bugs Bunny and friends
Thursday, February 17, 2005

By Brooks Barnes, The Wall Street Journal

Talk about extreme makeovers. Take a look at what's happening to Daffy and Bugs.

Hoping to breathe new life into its animated Looney Tunes franchise and prop up the WB television network's slumping Kids' WB line-up, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. is planning to launch a new cartoon series this fall based on "re-imagined" versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil, Lola Bunny, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

Warner Bros. has created angular, slightly menacing-looking versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters for its new series, dubbed "Loonatics" and set in the year 2772. Names for the new characters haven't been finalized, but they are likely to be derived from the originals: Buzz Bunny, for example. Each new character retains personality quirks of the original. The new Bugs, for example, will be the natural leader of the Loonatics' spaceship; the new Daffy will remain confident that he is the one who should be in charge.

Warner Bros. isn't sending the venerable original Looney Tunes cast into retirement. But it is trying to update the characters' appeal among modern kids. The classic characters were wisecrackers who rode their irreverent humor to stardom in the 1940s. The challenge now for Warner Bros. is to find a fresh way to tap the funny bone of an audience raised on Bart Simpson and SpongeBob SquarePants.

"The new series will have the same classic wit and wisdom, but we have to do it more in line with what kids are talking about today," says Sander Schwartz, president of Warner Bros. Animation. The plots are action-oriented, filled with chases and fights. Each character possesses a special crime-fighting power.

Sounds familiar? The format echoes a successful show Warner Bros. launched in 2003 on its WB network and Cartoon Network called "Teen Titans," about five teenage superheroes. The series, featuring dark, futuristic characters, based on such DC Comics personalities as Robin the Boy Wonder, quickly became a hit. It ranked No. 26 among kids programs for the fourth quarter last year.

With "Loonatics," Warner Bros. thinks it may have TV's next blockbuster cartoon on its hands. "The reaction by kids in test groups has been phenomenal," says Mr. Schwartz.

Given Warner's mixed track record over the past two decades with the Looney Tunes franchise, advertisers may be wary. Steven Spielberg sparked things up in the early 1990s with "Tiny Toons," a series in which new characters interacted with the originals. But a 2002 effort, "Baby Looney Tunes," has been a dud for the Cartoon Network, where it ended the fourth quarter ranked No. 104 among kids programs.

Efforts to juice up Looney Tunes on the big screen haven't fared much better. "Space Jam," starring Michael Jordan, turned a profit back in 1996. But "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" bombed last year: The movie, which cost $80 million to make, grossed just $21 million in the U.S., according to box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. (It grossed an additional $48 million outside the U.S., Warner Bros. says.)

It's a risky time to launch an expensive Saturday-morning cartoon. Kraft Foods Inc., which spent about $90 million on children's advertising in 2004, said in January it would stop advertising junk food to kids under 12. The company's decision, coming as the food industry generally is shifting kids advertising dollars to the Internet and videogames, is expected to result in softer ad sales. The kids "upfront" market, when $700 million to $800 million in national kids-TV advertising is sold to deep-pocketed marketers, kicks off today.

"It doesn't take a genius to look at the trouble in the toy business and what's going on in the food business to see that the overall kids market is particularly weak," says Jon Mandel, co-chief executive of Grey Global Group Inc.'s MediaCom.

It's not as if the Kids' WB has much of a choice about whether to be so aggressive. At a time when the behemoths of kids TV -- cable TV's Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel -- are gaining or stable, ratings on broadcast TV's Kids' WB have plunged.

So far this season, the network's Saturday-morning viewership is down 26 percent compared with a year ago among children from two to 11 years old, says Nielsen Media Research. Lisa Quan, an analyst for ad-buying firm Magna Global, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., says the network's average audience has shrunk about 40 percent compared with its peak two years ago, when cartoons such as "Pokemon" and "Yu-Gi-Oh" were white hot. "The WB has had a long, hard tumble from grace," Ms. Quan says.

David Janollari, president of entertainment for the WB, says he has no illusions about how much work the kids division has ahead of it. "We simply need a new crop of big hits," he says. "This audience is finicky and quickly gets itchy for something new." At the same time, however, the WB notes that it remains a strong No. 1 on Saturday morning among Saturday morning broadcasters -- Walt Disney Co.'s ABC is in second place -- and that ratings have improved recently.

Warner Bros. has been criticized for standing still during the late '80s and early '90s at a time when Disney was reaping huge profits from its cast of animated characters. But Warner has shown in recent years that it can launch new cartoons that rain profits: Warner released three "Pokemon" movies following the WB's successful 1999 launch of the cartoon series, along with an avalanche of toys and other licensed products.

"Loonatics" is part of a wider effort by Warner Bros. to boost classic franchises: A new Batman movie and a remake of "Superman" also are in the works. The potential revenue is massive: If "Loonatics" is a hit on Saturday morning, for example, it is likely to ripple through the company's merchandising, home-video and movie divisions. "That's the ultimate goal of all kids programming," says Mr. Janollari. "If we score, it's a gold mine."

Loonatics News / Schedule:

Episode 1 / Loonatics on Ice
First aired: 9/17/2005

Episode 2 / title unknown
First aired: 9/24/2005
Episode 3 / title unknown
First aired: 10/1/2005
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