WildBrain has reached an agreement to acquire Toronto animation pre-production studio, House of Cool for $15.5 million, expanding the company’s pre-production capabilities for animated series, specials and features. Under the agreement, WildBrain will acquire full ownership of House of Cool with executives and co-founders Wes Lui and Ricardo Curtis joining WildBrain Studios’ senior management team in the newly-created roles of Co-General Managers of House of Cool, reporting to WildBrain President Josh Scherba. Collaborating closely with WildBrain’s animation studio in Vancouver, House of Cool will maintain operations in Toronto as well as its distinct brand under the WildBrain banner. The acquisition will more than double WildBrain’s pre-production capacity, building on its existing team of approximately 80 staff, based in Vancouver. Read more here.
CBC has announced the renewal of original series Run The Burbs and Son Of A Critch for their third seasons, as well as long-running sketch comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes for a 31st season. They join Sort Of, which was renewed for a third season in December by CBC and HBO Max, as part of the public broadcaster’s 2023-24 comedy slate. Other returning series and specials include Season 4 of The New Wave of Standup and Season 20 of Just For Laughs Galas, Season 22 of Winnipeg Comedy Festival, and Season 27 of Halifax Comedy Fest. Kim’s Convenience spinoff Strays was not renewed for a third season.
CBC has renewed Bollywed for a second season, as announced during the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival. Produced by HeartHat Entertainment and launched earlier this year on CBC and CBC Gem, the series introduced audiences to the charismatic Singh family who have run their iconic bridal shop, Chandan Fashion, in Toronto’s Little India for nearly 40 years. Season 1 is available to stream on CBC Gem.
CTV has renewed original drama Transplant for a fourth season. The most-watched Canadian drama series with total viewers and all key demos, according to data provided by Bell Media, Transplant recently received its third consecutive nomination for Best Drama Series at the Canadian Screen Awards. Filming in Montreal from this spring, Season 4 finds Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq) on the precipice of finishing his residency at York Memorial. Seasons 1-3 are available for streaming on CTV.ca, the CTV app, and Crave.
Sportsnet and Canada Basketball have announced the return of GLOBL JAM, the international basketball showcase, to Toronto, July 12-16. Mirroring last year’s inaugural showcase, this summer’s festivities will once again centre around GLOBL JAM FIVES – the 5×5 under-23 basketball tournament featuring women’s and men’s teams from around the world. Taking to the court at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre and broadcast nationally across Sportsnet platforms, GLOBL JAM FIVES will feature future NBA and WNBA stars. GLOBL JAM FIVES will see teams compete in round robin action July 12-15, followed by the men’s and women’s bronze and gold medal championship games on Sunday, July 16.
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana is partnering with BAFTA-winning Belfast studio Sixteen South to option, co-develop and co-produce A Horse Named Steve, a new 2D animated series based on the acclaimed picture book by Toronto author-illustrator Kelly Collier. The series (52×11) will focus on the endearingly self-absorbed horse.
Home Free, a forthcoming feature film directed by Avi Federgreen has begun production in Paris, ON. Following three estranged adult sisters who return home for their parents’ anniversary to learn their father is dying, the dark drama is a longstanding passion project for Federgreen. His third feature film, it stars an array of Canadian talent including Michelle Nolden (Heartland, Saving Hope), Art Hindle (Black Christmas, The Brood), Jill Frappier (Hudson & Rex, Three Pines), Natalie Brown (Nightmare Alley, The Strain), Tara Spencer-Nairn (Corner Gas, James vs. His Future Self), and Al Mukadam (Pretty Hard Cases, The Detail). Home Free is produced by Federgreen (One Week, Kiss & Cry, Still Mine), Laura Tremblay (Motherly), Jen Pogue (Things I Do For Money), Emily Andrews (Things I do For Money), Emily Foster, and Julia Tomasone, with executive producers Marvin Waxman, Michelle Nolden, and Chris Szarka.
Little Bird, the Crave and APTN lumi original limited series created by Jennifer Podemski and Hannah Moscovitch, has captured the audience award at the Series Mania television festival in France where the drama had its world premiere. Based on a true story, the series explores a woman’s journey to reclaim her identity after being forcibly removed from the Long Pine Reservation in the “‘60s scoop” and adopted into a Jewish family in Montreal.
The Creative Saskatchewan Feature Film and Television Production Grant will see its base budget grow to $12 million this year, a $2.0 million or 20% lift, that the provincial government says will encourage more television and film productions to shoot in the province and employ local crews. Announced in the province’s 2023-24 budget, 28 productions were funded through the grant in 2022-23.
Big Sky Studios has opened in Manitoba, a new state-of-the-art facility set to support the increase of television and film being shot in the province. Sprawling over nine acres in central Winnipeg, the Big Sky Studios’ complex boasts four soundstages, along with production offices, meeting rooms, all-support service rooms, and a partnership with Canadian equipment provider William F. White International. Manitoba’s Film and Video Production Tax Credit is among the most competitive in North America with up to 65% of eligible salaries covered for Manitoba labour, or up to 38% of overall production costs.
Volume Global and Julijette Inc. have announced the development of Jette Studios, a state-of-the-art, full-service film and television studio village in Niverville, MB that leverages the latest technology and includes 18,581 sq.-ft. of studio space. With construction to be completed in two phases, starting this summer, the province says the facility will be instrumental in supporting the 1,500 Manitobans in the province’s film labour force. It’s estimated the $30-million private sector investment will create 300 new jobs over the next three years.
CRTC Chairperson and CEO Vicky Eatrides will speak on the opening day of the BANFF World Media Festival on June 12 with a keynote session. The 44th edition of the festival will take place in-person, June 11 – 14, at the Fairmont Banff Springs. As previously announced, George Cheeks, President and CEO of CBS and Chief Content Officer, News and Sports for Paramount+, is also confirmed as a Summit Series speaker, a future-focused lineup of keynote sessions. BANFF panel discussions include the recently announced Universal Studio Group Spotlight session featuring Erin Underhill, President of Universal Television; Beatrice Springborn, President of Universal International Studios & UCP; and Toby Gorman, President of Universal Television Alternative Studio.
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) will hold a webcast to provide an overview of changes to its 2023-24 programs, program budgets and guidelines. Webcasts will be held in both French and English on April 6. Learn more here.