The television series, made up of 40 eleven-minute episodes, encourages a pre-school brother and sister, Darwin and Newts, to explore simple science ideas to fix things.
Toonz Entertainment NZ has established a studio of artists in Auckland for pre-production for Darwin And Newts. The directors are Janine Morrell-Gunn and Emma Gribble, and the series will be completed in mid-2017.
Toonz has invested in the project, along with the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, and Whitebait, and it will first be screened on TV2 in New Zealand. "We have already had great interest from other broadcast partners around the world,’’ says Nicholls. "I’m confident we can sell Darwin And Newts, and it will travel well.’’
Toonz internationally is owned by the Comcraft Group headquartered in Switzerland, and it provides the media group with strong support to expand into new markets. Toonz also has offices in Spain, North America, Turkey, Singapore, Canada and the UK.
It has formed strong working partnerships with the likes of Disney, Turner, Nickelodeon, Discovery, Google, YouTube, Sony, Universal, BBC, ABC Australia, Paramount, Marvel, Hallmark to name a few. This provides New Zealand with strong links into these partnerships, and should be seen as a positive step for the industry in New Zealand, says Nicholls.
The partnership between Toonz and Nicholls happened after he needed an international partner to produce some content for a project he had initiated.
A trip to meet the CEO developed into a long term partnership where today they have both invested into the tech start-up based in San Francisco. They hope to launch this in 2017.
"We have now worked together for nearly five years,’’ says Nicholls. ``The family culture that has been created within the company is unique and refreshing. The Comcraft Group have invested in New Zealand in other sectors for the last 30 years, so this is an extension to their interest in this market.’’
Nicholls says Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has provided great support for the introduction of Toonz to New Zealand. "Whether it’s connecting us to industry partners, hosting international executives at the Cricket World Cup or just supporting us with industry events, ATEED are always connecting with us – and making sure they can support us to help create a sustainable business here in New Zealand.’’