Cartoon Network is not dead, says Warner Bros KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Cartoon Network is not dead, says Warner Bros

Following Tuesday’s news of layoffs and restructurings within Warner Bros. Television Group, many animation fans and creators have taken to social media to express worry about the state of Cartoon Network Studios within the company — which sources from Warner Bros. maintain is unfounded.

The layoffs, announced on Tuesday, heavily affected the animation division of the company. As laid out in a memo sent by Television Group chief Channing Dungey, the three studios the animation division consists of — Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network Studios, and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe — will remain intact. While Hanna-Barbera will operate independently due to geographical distance, Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation will merge their development and production teams. Announced on Thursday, Cartoon Network execs Tricia Melton and Jill King are the latest to go as part of the merger.

According to Variety, “output will remain the same,” following WNA and CNS consolidating — but the response from animation industry denizens and pundits has not been as optimistic. Cartoon Brew declared the studio “gone,” which inspired pushback from a Cartoon Network staffer. Polygon spoke to a Warner Bros. representative who said that CNS is not disappearing and that it still has many projects in development. The real question is how this joint division will set its priorities, which more or less depends on what viewers actually watch and what the company deems profitable.

Mostly, digging into each respective animation studios’ back catalog heightens the differences between the two over the years — a difference many of us who grew up watching and obsessing over Cartoon Network’s various cartoon blocks could easily identify, even before the consolidation and layoffs. It’s hard to know how these two studios will come together, especially after these layoffs have left so many talented employees jobless.

This merger has been interpreted by some — including animation news site Cartoon Brew — as a measure to halt the development of original shows at the company. While Cartoon Network Studios focuses largely on creating original shows, Warner Bros. Animation focuses on developing projects based on existing franchises, including Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and DC Comics superheroes. As such, people in the industry — such as Cartoon Network’s former general manager Brian A. Miller — along with fans of Cartoon Network’s output, have hypothesized that the merger will cause CNS to focus on producing shows based omm..

While the full effect the consolidation will have on Cartoon Network shows remains to be seen, sources from Warner Bros. denied the studio was going anywhere, saying the structural changes were made “to optimize organizational efficiency across WBA and CNS.” In addition, sources stated the restructuring comes after departments such as programming, casting, legal/business affairs, and artist relations teams have spent two and a half years working across the three animation studios.

And oh yeah, the Cartoon Network style will remain intact, one corporate insider promised IndieWire.

The sources maintained that Cartoon Network would remain dedicated to developing new, artist-driven animated projects, pointing toward upcoming original shows in active development. These projects include “Invincible Fight Girl” from Juston Gordon-Montgomery and “Samurai Jack” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” creator Genndy Tartakovsky’s upcoming series “Unicorn: Warriors Eternal.”

“CNS remains a key animation production studio within Warner Bros. Discovery and the industry destination for original and bold animated series,” Warner Bros. Discovery sources told IndieWire.

That said, Cartoon Network Studios hasn’t been safe from the project cancellations and removals that have occurred since David Zaslav assumed the position of CEO and president of Warner Bros. Discovery. The TV film “Driftwood,” produced by the studio, was canceled while in production, and shows such as “Infinity Train” and “Summer Camp Island” were removed from streaming on HBO Max...

These changes at Cartoon Network Studios come at a time when some of its cartoons have already become harder to track down and watch. The cuts also arrive on the heels of Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Media from AT&T. HBO Max and Discovery Plus are set to become one streaming service in 2023. After taking over in April, CEO David Zaslav, who previously ran Discovery, pledged to cut $3 billion from the company, and he’s taken an aggressive approach to get there.

Zaslav has made good on the promise, and mainly in the area of genre entertainment. In August, Discovery laid off 14% of HBO Max staff and canceled the Batgirl movie. Later that month, beloved cartoons were yanked from HBO Max, blindsiding the cartoons’ creators. Dozens of Sesame Street episodes were taken off of the streaming platform, and other shows were totally removed — including fan favorite OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes, as well as Infinity Train, which ran for four seasons and is no longer airing on Cartoon Network. (It can luckily still be found on other streaming services.) Other shows like Summer Camp Island and Victor and Valentino still air on Cartoon Network, even if you can’t find them on HBO’s streaming service.

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