According to The Hollywood Reporter, after selling more than 60 million units on DVD and VHS, Universal's "Land Before Time" franchise is about to branch into another direction: TV.
The series of direct-to-video sequels to 1988's "The Land Before Time," directed by Don Bluth and executive produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, has sparked the development of a new animated TV series that is slated to debut on the Cartoon Network in first-half 2007.
Production has begun on 26 episodes of the "Land Before Time" series, the first project from Universal Studios Home Entertainment's new family entertainment label. After the series airs, episodes will be released on DVD.
The TV series will feature many of the same characters that appeared in the theatrical movie and its 10 direct-to-video sequels, mostly such lovable animated dinosaurs as Littlefoot, Cera and Petrie. New characters also will be introduced. The series will be created using a combination of 2-D and 3-D backgrounds.
USHE president Craig Kornblau cites "huge consumer demand for high-quality, family friendly content both on television and in the home-entertainment arena." He said Universal is committed to tapping its catalog and also finding new material "to inspire the creation of original films and series that will serve this growing marketplace."
Glenn Ross, the veteran family entertainment marketer hired in March to launch Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Prods., said Cartoon Network is a good home for "Land Before Time" because of its "trademark quality programming."
Plus, he said, "most of the movies have played at one time or another on Cartoon Network, so it's a natural for them to do it. They know the brand."
Ross said that in addition to working on the series, Universal is preparing a 12th "Land Before Time" feature film. "The Land Before Time: Day of the Flyers" will be released in 2007.
Launched in 1992, Cartoon Network is seen in more than 88.3 million U.S. homes and in 160 countries worldwide. The 24-hour cable service, from Turner Broadcasting System, also is home to such series as "The Powerpuff Girls," "Ed, Edd n Eddy" and "Teen Titans."