Cartoon Network Going Corporate? Animators and Fans Are Worried

Following Tuesday’s news of layoffs and restructurings within Warner Bros. Television Group, many animation fans and creators have taken to social media to express worry about the state of Cartoon Network Studios within the company — which sources from Warner Bros. maintain is unfounded.

The layoffs, announced on Tuesday, heavily affected the animation division of the company. As laid out in a memo sent by Television Group chief Channing Dungey, the three studios the animation division consists of — Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network Studios, and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe — will remain intact. While Hanna-Barbera will operate independently due to geographical distance, Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation will merge their development and production teams. Announced on Thursday, Cartoon Network execs Tricia Melton and Jill King are the latest to go as part of the merger.

Audrey Diehl will oversee the combined kids and family series, Peter Girardi will lead the combined adult animation development, and Bobbie Page will lead the combined main production. All three are Warner Bros. Animation executives. Sammy Perlmutter, who will lead animated long-form series development, and Ed Adams, EVP and general manager, already worked across both animation studios. Sam Register will continue to oversee animation as a whole.

This merger has been interpreted by some — including animation news site Cartoon Brew — as a measure to halt the development of original shows at the company. While Cartoon Network Studios focuses largely on creating original shows, Warner Bros. Animation focuses on developing projects based on existing franchises, including Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and DC Comics superheroes. As such, people in the industry — such as Cartoon Network’s former general manager Brian A. Miller — along with fans of Cartoon Network’s output, have hypothesized that the merger will cause CNS to focus on producing shows based on existing properties rather than new IP.

While the full effect the consolidation will have on Cartoon Network shows remains to be seen, sources from Warner Bros. denied the studio was going anywhere, saying the structural changes were made “to optimize organizational efficiency across WBA and CNS.” In addition, sources stated the restructuring comes after departments such as programming, casting, legal/business affairs, and artist relations teams have spent two and a half years working across the three animation studios.

And oh yeah, the Cartoon Network style will remain intact, one corporate insider promised IndieWire.

The sources maintained that Cartoon Network would remain dedicated to developing new, artist-driven animated projects, pointing toward upcoming original shows in active development. These projects include “Invincible Fight Girl” from Juston Gordon-Montgomery and “Samurai Jack” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” creator Genndy Tartakovsky’s upcoming series “Unicorn: Warriors Eternal.”

“CNS remains a key animation production studio within Warner Bros. Discovery and the industry destination for original and bold animated series,” Warner Bros. Discovery sources told IndieWire.

That said, Cartoon Network Studios hasn’t been safe from the project cancellations and removals that have occurred since David Zaslav assumed the position of CEO and president of Warner Bros. Discovery. The TV film “Driftwood,” produced by the studio, was canceled while in production, and shows such as “Infinity Train” and “Summer Camp Island” were removed from streaming on HBO Max.

Miller wasn’t the only one mourning Cartoon Network Studios; see more reactions to the news below.

 

Tony Maglio contributed reporting.

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