Storytelling school

Exclusive: Disney’s Orion Ross Talks Rights, Serialized Storytelling and ‘Bluey’ Love

The Doomies

Disney EMEA is looking to order complex, serialized animated series and “grounded” preschool comedies, its animation chief told TBI here at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France.

Orion Ross, vice president of original programming and animation for Disney EMEA, added that he looks for shows that push the boundaries of what people expect from a Disney show.

Ross announced two new non-EMEA original series at the festival, a spooky comedy The Doomies and a series of epic sports-themed adventures Dragon Striker.

Orion Ross

Dragon Striker is our first foray into serialized anime-like content. It’s just not something Disney is doing right now and we know our audience loves it.

“We’ve seen serialized storytelling work for many years, obviously in Japan. We also looked like Avatar: The Last Airbender and shows like this have found new life in streaming,” Ross explained. “We’re now obviously thinking about streaming first and that really opens up this exciting opportunity to tell serial stories, create deep, rich worlds, and have high-volume, multi-season arcs.”

Ross said the series’ appeal isn’t necessarily its anime style, but rather the intricacy of plot and characterization that comes with serialized storytelling, and revealed that he was looking to partner with EMEA prodcos on similar projects.

expect the unexpected

The Disney executive also revealed that he was looking for animated comedies for ages 6 to 14 that were 11 or 22 minutes per episode that he hoped “could make people say, ‘I don’t. didn’t expect it to come from Disney”.

He added that grounded preschool comedies based on family, school and relatable situations are also a priority: , or the rest of the world, it’s different”.

Ross said Australian animation Bluey, of Ludo Studio, was “a very good reference” for the kind of project he had in mind, adding: “We had nothing to do with Bluey, but someone was smart enough to buy it for our channel, which is awesome, because it’s awesome. I am a huge fan of this show.

Dragon Striker

Innovation is first and foremost for the executive, who explained: “The last thing we want to do is repeat the same things we’ve done for the past 100 years. Or if we do it again, make sure we put a new spin on it.

“Disney has never done an animated series about football – they haven’t really done an animated series – which strikes us as new ground and not something you’d expect to find on Disney a while ago. “

Call for co-productions

Ross added that it was “an important message for people to hear” that “co-productions are really important to us”, hoping to dispel the belief that working with Disney always means giving up all rights.

“That’s not the case; we have a long history of [co-productions] in Europe. Simply because we are moving more towards streaming as well as, if not more, towards channels, we still need both, and both business models. We don’t have to own everything. »

In a wide-ranging interview with TBI, Ross added that the team would request full rights if the project was a full commission or if the project was based on Disney intellectual property “or if it was something we thought be awesome and we wanted to make it a global original and stream it exclusively on Disney+ and channels around the world like The Doomies.

Alternatively, Ross is open to a global pre-purchase on co-productions where, as with PJ Masks and Miraculous: Tbeers from Ladybug & Chat Noir, “We have it everywhere, but then it’s not exclusive to certain territories. Or we would take more rights in the EMEA region and put part of the budget to cover these rights and the producer would retain the rights for the rest of the world.

“There are different models on different shows,” Ross explained. “It really depends on the deal, we’ve done anything from a very limited pre-purchase in a few territories for a small percentage of the budget up to a third or a half depending on how the series is funded. .”