12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Netflix Inks Overall Deal With 'Big Mouth' Animation Studio
Netflix is investing further in the adult animation genre.
The streaming giant, which launched its own in-house studio in 2018, on Monday announced that it has signed an overall deal with Titmouse, the animation company behind its hit comedy Big Mouth.
Under the terms of the multiyear agreement, Titmouse will produce original adult animated series for Netflix, which will also have a first-look option on all adult animated series that will be created and developed by the company.
The pact extends Netflix's relationship with Titmouse, which in addition to doing the animation for Big Mouth — created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett — also serves in the same capacity on the streamer's forthcoming comedy The Midnight Gospel, which was created by Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell.
The adult animation space has been booming in the Peak TV era, where comedies like Adult Swim's Rick and Morty and Fox's Bob's Burgers and Family Guy are routinely among the most-watched licensed fare. Originals, too, have become breakout hits (see Netflix's fellow critical darling BoJack Horseman). Animated fare is significantly less expensive to produce than live-action scripted originals and, in success, can become multibillion-dollar empires that include merchandising, video games and more.
With Titmouse, Netflix bolsters its own in-house animation studio with a second company to do physical animation at a time when it continues to invest in the space. Big Mouth was renewed last year for three additional seasons (through 2022), and the streamer also has new adult animated series on the way including Hoops, Inside Job, The Liberator, Titmouse's Midnight Gospel and Q Force, among others.
"Titmouse has been at the forefront of the evolving animation industry and is the creative force behind an impressive variety of projects, including our very own Big Mouth and The Midnight Gospel,” Mike Moon, head of adult animation for Netflix, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to expand our collaboration with Chris, Shannon, and the entire team at Titmouse as we continue to develop and produce bold original animation together."
Titmouse was founded in 2000 by Chris Prynoski and his wife and producing partner, Shannon Prynoski. Chris Prynoski started his career as an animator on the MTV hits Daria and Beavis and Butthead and the latter's subsequent movie. The studio's credits include Adult Swim hits like The Venture Bros. and Disney XD's Motorcity, among others. The indie company has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver and features a staff of 700 writers, producers, directors, storyboard artists, animators, composers, editors and artists.
"When Netflix asked if we wanted to go steady, we were thrilled," said Titmouse president and founder Chris Prynoski. "When we asked if it could be an open relationship, they said, ‘Yeah, of course. It’s the 21st century, kid. That’s the only way we’ll have it.’ Now we are friends with benefits and I couldn’t be more stoked. This new and exciting relationship will help quench our relentless thirst for producing animated cartoons. Excuse me, I’m gonna go carve NF+TM on a tree now."
Netflix launched its own in-house animation studio in 2018 in a bid to better monetize what can be hugely lucrative programming. As it has with live-action scripted efforts, the streamer will scale back on outsourcing the costly process to animation companies like Bento Box, which is handling animation on its comedy Hoops. Netflix's studio, say sources, will animate kids programming, originals and films, working with writers including Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls) and Shion Takeuchi (Disenchantment) to create new projects.
The Titmouse deal follows news in August that Fox Corp. had purchased Bento Box, the animation studio behind its hit comedy Bob's Burgers and new comedies The Great North and Duncanville.