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Positioned as a Road Runner for the 21st century, TV-Loonland’s latest pick-up from Studio Hari (the Paris-based outfit that created slapstick short series The Owl) is CGI laffer Leon. This one takes place against the barren landscape of the African savannah. The show’s namesake is a seemingly fearless lion who plots tirelessly to hunt down everything that crosses his path. And that’s where the laughs start because it turns out that Leon’s hunting skills are more like those of a lazy housecat than a wildcat, and he’s beset by an unending string of bad luck.
In one sample episode, Leon is in hot pursuit of an ostrich and winds up getting pummeled by the chick that unexpectedly hatches from his prey’s egg. In another story, the hunter becomes the hunted when an amorous hippo falls head over heels in love with Leon and shamelessly chases him around the savannah.
TV-Loonland is overseeing international distribution and merchandising rights on the property. Like its classic Looney Tunes predecessor, Leon’s short-format episodes are designed to be dialogue-free, but they rely heavily on visual gags. Despite the absence of speech, Leon will still have a distinctive voice – the studio has been amping up the sound design to balance effects and noises with the music.
Now greenlit by France 3, there are 12 scripts heading into pre-production. At three minutes, the eps are slightly longer than most shorts, but Olivier Dumont Dumont, MD of TVL says the quality of the CGI will work well for distribution on mobile, which the company has in its crosshairs. He’ll also be taking the property to Brand Licensing Europe at the beginning of October to jumpstart an L&M program, and expects plush and apparel will be a natural fit for the feline-centric animated offering.