|Founded||October 21, 1994|
|Headquarters||300 N 3rd St., |
|Owner||Warner Bros. Discovery|
|Parent||Warner Bros. Television Studios|
Cartoon Network Studios is an American animation studio owned by the Warner Bros. Television Studios division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery. The studio is the production arm of Cartoon Network, and was founded on October 21, 1994, as a division of Hanna-Barbera, until the latter was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001.
The studio primarily produces and develops animated programs and shorts for Cartoon Network and Cartoonito, and has also developed properties for Adult Swim, TBS, and Max. The studio has produced dozens of shows, including Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls (and its film adaptation), Johnny Bravo, Time Squad, Samurai Jack, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Camp Lazlo, Ben 10, Chowder, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, Clarence, We Bare Bears, and Craig of the Creek.
In 2000, the network purchased a large building in Burbank, California to serve as its headquarters. Cartoon Network Studios operated in these facilities for over twenty years, and also expanded into other buildings as well. In the 2020s, after multiple corporate mergers, the studio was consolidated into Warner Bros. Animation, and will continue to operate as a separate division, although it was relocated to Second Century Development as the company's new headquarters on August 1, 2023.
In the twentieth century, animation as a medium became popular on television. Hanna-Barbera became the premier studio for small-screen animated programs, launching a dominant series of Saturday-morning fare, including Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and more. By the 1980s, cable television was developed, with businessman Ted Turner one of its pioneers. Turner founded several cable channels and also acquired vast film libraries, and in 1991 his company signed a joint deal to buy Hanna-Barbera. The Cartoon Network was developed as a cable outlet to air these animated properties, which largely consisted of H-B reruns. As the channel grew in subscribers, executives at the Atlanta-based company sought out original programming to supplement its catalog. Other animation-heavy cable channels, including Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, founded their own in-house studios throughout the decade as well.
Cartoon Network Studios originated in 1994 as a division of Hanna-Barbera that focused on producing original programming for Cartoon Network. Hanna-Barbera had been located on Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles since 1963, and housed the studio, its archives, and its extensive animation art collection. Its first productions included What a Cartoon! (1995), an anthology series of short subjects serving as pilots for new CN programs. The first of these, Dexter's Laboratory, launched in 1996 and was an immediate success. The same year, Turner Broadcasting System was merged with Time Warner, and Hanna-Barbera closed its Cahuenga campus, relocating to Sherman Oaks Galleria in nearby Sherman Oaks, where Warner Bros. Animation was located. Over the course of this transition, the Cartoon Network Studios branding was briefly phased out, with newer programs, including Johnny Bravo (1997) and The Powerpuff Girls (1998), opting for H-B branding.
On July 21, 1999, Cartoon Network officially started the studio to separate itself from the complete folding of Hanna-Barbera into Warner Bros. Animation. The network acquired a three-story 43,000-square-foot facility located at 300 N 3rd St. in Burbank, California to house its new offices, previously a commercial bakery, and prior to that, the location of a Pacific Bell telephone exchange. According to Cartoon Brew, the network spent around $1.2 million to renovate the building. The network took counsel from its top cartoonists, Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken, on the site of its new studio, as well as design proposals for its offices.
In March 2000, the network began to transfer its production offices, and on May 22, 2000, the studio was christened by veteran animator and animation advisor Joseph Barbera with a bottle of champagne. The building's official opening came on August 24, 2000; former DiC and Nickelodeon employees Brian A. Miller and Jennifer Pelphrey were hired to manage the studio. Mike Lazzo, then head of programming and development, designed a pirate flag, with a skull bearing the channel logo in its teeth, that flew over the building for several weeks before local police threatened action over its lack of permit. Its artists quickly took to its stairwell with doodles and other graffiti that filled over its twenty-year history; it was also home to a mural by artist Ian Anderson titled Mazeway to Heaven. The first new productions at the new offices included Samurai Jack and Time Squad (both 2001).
In 2002, the studio produced two television pilots for Cartoon Network's late night programming block Adult Swim: Welcome to Eltingville and The Groovenians. Neither of them were picked as full series. Also, the studio released this year its only theatrical film to date: The Powerpuff Girls Movie, based on The Powerpuff Girls, which received positive reviews from critics but performed poorly at the box office. In 2006, Cartoon Network Studios collaborated with sister studio Williams Street for the first time for Korgoth of Barbaria, a television pilot made for Adult Swim, which was also not green-lit as a series.
In 2007, Cartoon Network Studios began its first foray into live-action with the hybrid series Out of Jimmy's Head, and then its first fully live-action project, Ben 10: Race Against Time and its sequel, Ben 10: Alien Swarm, along with the television pilots Locker 514, Siblings and Stan the Man. The studio's first live-action series Tower Prep would arrive in 2010. Former New Line Television producer Mark Costa was hired to oversee the projects and Cartoon Network Studios' live-action production company Alive and Kicking, Inc.. Incredible Crew was the last series in that genre the studio produced for Cartoon Network. Despite the failure of live-action on the channel, the studio's infrastructure was retained to produce live-action fare for sibling programming block Adult Swim, identifying on-air as Alive and Kicking, along with two other companies (Rent Now Productions and Factual Productions), instead of using the Cartoon Network Studios banner.
In 2010, Adventure Time premiered on Cartoon Network. It began life as a short featured on Nicktoons' Random! Cartoons that was ultimately not green-lit as a series by that channel. Cartoon Network picked it up later, and production of the show moved to Cartoon Network Studios. The show ran until 2018 with 10 seasons and 283 episodes. A film was announced in 2015, but in 2018 Adam Muto said that the film was never officially announced. In 2019, a continuation, titled Adventure Time: Distant Lands, was announced for HBO Max with a release in 2020. Also this year, The Cartoonstitute, an incubator series similar to What a Cartoon!, debuted on Cartoon Network Video. The pilots of Regular Show and Uncle Grandpa were presented here among with other shorts, with the Uncle Grandpa pilot also serving as a basis for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, which preceded the actual series.
In 2014, Cartoon Network Studios produced its first miniseries, Over the Garden Wall. The following year, Long Live the Royals was also premiered. In 2016, the studio produced two reboots based on The Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10 respectively. Also, the studio produced its first television series based on a series of online shorts, Mighty Magiswords.
In 2017, after plans as old as 2002 for a film failed to work, Samurai Jack was revived for a fifth and final season, which the studio returned to produce for Adult Swim, to critical acclaim, concluding the series after its cancellation from Cartoon Network in 2004. Also this year, it was announced that Cartoon Network Studios, in collaboration with Studio T, would produce the adult animated series Close Enough for TBS, created by Regular Show creator J. G. Quintel.
In 2019, after handling a few episodes of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, the second season of Black Dynamite, the above-mentioned fifth season of Samurai Jack and producing the above-mentioned television pilots Welcome to Eltingville, The Groovenians and Korgoth of Barbaria, Cartoon Network Studios produced its first full program for Adult Swim: Primal, an adult animated series from Genndy Tartakovsky. The first five episodes were also packaged for a limited theatrical release as a feature film titled Primal: Tales of Savagery.
Cartoon Network Studios also began to produce content for parent company WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service HBO Max, including Adventure Time: Distant Lands. After the failure of its planned animation block, Close Enough was also shifted from TBS to HBO Max.
In the 2010s, the studio began to outgrow its original building, and began to rent space in other facilities in the Burbank Media Center district.
In August 2020, Warner Bros. Animation president Sam Register was appointed head of the studio. Amy Friedman was named head of programming for Cartoon Network after Rob Sorcher resigned his roles as head of the studio and chief content officer, and switching to Warner Bros. Television Group for an overall production deal.
In 2021, Jason DeMarco was named SVP for Anime & Action Series/Longform for Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, and Cartoon Network Studios Europe was renamed Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe as a tribute to the original Hanna-Barbera studio.
On May 11, 2022, after Tom Ascheim exited his role as president and departed, the Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics division was dissolved as part of a restructuring by new owner Warner Bros. Discovery, with its studios—including Cartoon Network Studios—moved directly under Warner Bros. Television.
On October 11, 2022, Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation consolidated their development and production teams as part of a restructuring by Warner Bros. Television, with Audrey Diehl overseeing kids and family, Peter Girardi overseeing adult animation, and Sammy Perlmutter overseeing animated longform productions. The merger will not impact their output as labels, with Cartoon Network Studios continuing to focus on original content, and Warner Bros. Animation used for classic franchises.
On July 9, 2023, Miller announced via Twitter that the Cartoon Network Studios Burbank building would be closing its doors on August 1, with all operations transferring to Warner Bros. Animation. While unconfirmed, Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew reported its production teams will move to the Second Century Development, a pair of buildings with over 800,000 square feet of office space, just adjacent to the Warner Bros. lot.
Main article: List of Cartoon Network Studios productions
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