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Netflix is going all in on Exploding Kittens.
The streaming giant is building a TV and mobile game franchise with the creators of the beloved and offbeat card game, marking the first time the company has pulled off such a feat.
The series will be an adult animated comedy and is exec produced by genre giants and King of the Hill creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels. The series, which follows the eternal conflict between heaven and hell when both God and the devil are sent to Earth in the bodies of chunky house cats, will star Tom Ellis (Lucifer), Abraham Lim (The Boys), Lucy Liu (Elementary), Ally Maki (Wrecked), Mark Proksch (Better Call Saul) and Sasheer Zamata (Woke). Shane Kosakowski (You’re the Worst) and The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman will serve as showrunners. It is expected to debut in 2023.
Chernin Entertainment backed Exploding Kittens and brought the deal to Netflix. The company’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping exec produce.
The mobile game, due in May, will be the same as the card game with the addition of two new exclusive cards that reveal the position of the “Exploding Kitten” card and reverse the order of the deck. Additional cards and game mechanics tied to the animated show will be added to the mobile edition at a later date. The game will be free to Netflix members without additional fees or in-app purchases.
“The co-development of a game and animated series breaks new ground for Netflix,” said Mike Moon, head of adult animation at Netflix. “And we couldn’t think of a better game to build a universe around than Exploding Kittens, one of the most inventive, iconic and original games of this century! Netflix is the perfect place to explore this growing franchise and we are so fortunate to be working with this incredible team!”
The strategic card game about “cats and destruction” was designed by Elan Lee and Inman based on comics from The Oatmeal and Shane Small. The creators started a Kickstarter to create the card game that set a record for the platform and raised $8.7 million. More than 18 million copies have been sold to date.
“Netflix is the only service that could bring Exploding Kittens to life in both a series and a game,” said Inman, who serves as chief creative officer and creator of The Oatmeal. “We actually launched Exploding Kittens on Kickstarter as a weekend project, but our community has been the heart and soul of the company over the past six years. The new series and game will give our fans new ways to connect and interact with the franchise.”
Exploding Kittens marks the latest adult animated series for Judge and Daniels and their recently launched Bandera Entertainment banner, led by Dustin Davis. The King of the Hill creators also have Bad Crimes, starring Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus, at the streamer as part of a slate of projects the duo is readying in a push to expand the format into as many subgenres as live-action fare.
The mobile game comes as Netflix has been aggressively entering new territory including games, podcasts and shorts, looking for new ways to expose its content to new viewers while monetizing its most popular offerings into other (lucrative) arenas.
“Our goal is to offer our members great entertainment they’ll love in whatever format they may enjoy — whether it be a game or an animated series,” said Leanne Loombe, head of external games at Netflix. “As we expand our mobile games catalog, we’re excited to partner with the Exploding Kittens digital team to bring this enjoyable game to all age groups, including a few exciting updates exclusively for our members.”
Further details about the Exploding Kittens animated series, including which actors are voicing what roles, will be announced at a later date.
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