Here’s what to watch out for from Toonz in 2022
By P. Jayakumar, CEO – Toonz Media Group
The whole business world has been in a state of flux these past two years. Last year definitely began on a positive note with Covid vaccinations providing us with a glimmer of hope about getting life back to normal. As we step into 2022 under the shadow of the pandemic, we now realize that getting back to normal is a long road to traverse. However, by now, businesses have also risen to the occasion, coming up with ingenious and agile strategies to cope with the rapidly developing situation.
Coming from the Animation VFX Gaming and Comics (AVGC) industry, I must admit that 2021 has been a challenging but at the same time exhilarating year. Like the rest of the world, we did face difficulties both on the operational and business front. However, with content providing a major respite to pandemic-strapped people around the world, business-wise it was definitely a happening year for our industry. The demand for content, especially kids’ content, skyrocketed. At Toonz, we had to push our boundaries to keep up with production deadlines, even while dealing with the limitations of remote working. It was challenging but worthwhile and fulfilling. There was tremendous learning and a lot of valuable insights.
From an organizational standpoint, Toonz Media Group is gearing up for the new year with renewed focus to establish itself as the world’s top kids and family entertainment company. There are several new initiatives on the anvil. As well as focussed plans to consolidate current business verticals.
One of the things that I am really looking forward to in 2022 is the launch of our new NFT-based game. Toonz had launched the world’s first fully-integrated NFT design lab in October last year, in partnership with blockchain R&D company GuardianLink called Toonz NFTLabs. The online game that we are currently developing will be our first NFT-based product to be launched in the market. It is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2022.
Another major business vertical that we look to expand in 2022 is our Live Action wing. Toonz is largely known for its world-class animation IPs. However, we do have a handful of live-action titles to our credits. Although few, they are all global super hits like the movie `Magic Beyond Words’ based on author J.K. Rowling’s life, `Mostly Ghostly’ series based on famous horror fiction author R.L. Stine’s books and `Jamillah and Aladdin’ based on the classic `Arabian Nights’. In 2022 we will be investing more in live-action projects. We already have a slew of projects in the pipeline. Some are new projects and some are based on globally renowned IPs.
Another business vertical where we are seeing a lot of excitement is Toonz Media Networks which represents our digital and platform entertainment business. The Media Networks SBU was established last year and we launched our first broadcast channel under the SBU in the fast-growing kids market of Indonesia. The Toonz Kids channel is the first kids’ channel to carry programmes in Bahasa. This year we will be launching channels in the Middle East and North Africa. We had also launched our own OTT channel MyToonz earlier in 2021.
Our education wing Toonz Academy has been a pioneering institution in the space of animation and visual arts training. Last year we broadened our education division with the launch of our EdTech venture Ri8brain. This initiative came as a direct response to the changing norms of learning and teaching around the world. Ri8brain is unique for many reasons. Apart from being a new-age learning platform, Ri8brain also offers employment opportunities to mentors and creative arts teachers to use their skills to train the next generation of creative talents. This year, we will be looking to consolidate our position in the EdTech space with Ri8brain, which is set to see tremendous growth in terms of services and operations in the coming months.
Even as we spread our wings into these new fields, there is a lot to look forward to from our animation studios. Toonz has been collaborating with the world’s top creators and studios for several new projects, some of which are waiting to hit the screen in 2022. With renowned American actress Janet Hubert we are producing a 2D animation feature titled `JG and the BC Kids’, which has a black schoolboy and a black female superhero as central characters. `JG and the BC Kids’ will hit the screens in March 2022. The CGI feature `Canterville Ghost’, based on Oscar Wilde’s classic, is also slated to release by the end of this year. We are co-producing this project with leading American studio Cinema Management Group (CMG) and UK-based Space Age Films, and Sprout Pictures. We also have a much-awaited 2D animation TV series on the anvil called `Sunnyside Billy’. This was conceptualized by the late animation legend Olivier Jean Marie. Several other television shows will premiere this year. And all of these titles are rooted in modern, progressive values like diversity, inclusivity, empathy, and environmental consciousness.
So there’s a lot to look forward to for Toonz Media Group in 2022. We hope that our contributions to the industry and our customers and audience around the world will be worthwhile and enhancing.