Public broadcaster France Televisions has backed “Dungeons & Kittens,” a serialized animated fantasy from leading Gallic producer Watch Next. Following the development title’s premiere showcase at Cartoon Forum, Variety can exclusively share this first look.
Inspired by both role playing games and tabletop pets, the family-skewing project follows a herd of meowing marauders, banished from their cat kingdom and searching for the treasure that will grant them safe passage back. Over the course of 13 episodes, the four-strong, feline fellowship will rescale high fantasy tropes down to more kid-friendly size, overcoming obstacles and surviving cliffhangers in a serialized narrative apt for binging.
“[We wanted] to develop an epic saga to accompany the rise of our broadcasting partners’ non-linear platforms,” says Watch Next CEO Philippe Alessandri. “And we wanted to allow our team to showcase its own talent within a new format and genre.”
Alessandri, series head-writer Melanie Duval, and Watch Next head of development Sylvain Huchet pitched the project at a Tuesday Cartoon Movie showcase, where Huchet praised designer and project originator Clément De Ruyter’s lush graphic style, while emphasizing the series’ interest in themes of friendship and critical thinking.
“Beyond the gorgeous style,” Huchet continued, “What really appealed to us was this idea of putting these tiny characters that feel a bit helpless in a world that seems way too big for them. And that’s really the main idea: Even if you’re a tiny kitten or a small kid, you can still make an impact and change the world around you.”
Alongside support from France Televisions, the title has already lined-up pre-sales with TV5 and Switzerland’s RTS. Delivery is slated for 2025.
Launched as an animation house in 2015, the Watch Next group has since grown to include physical production facilities in Paris and Lille, a specialty distribution branch named Kids First, and a unit dedicated to feature film production, among other acquisitions. Popular in-house productions include the CG-animated “Hello Kitty: Super Style” and 2-D comedies “Nate is Late,” “Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese,” and “I, Elvis Riboldi.”
Per a June 2023 report from France’s national film and audiovisual board CNC, Watch Next delivered 68 hours of animated content over the past few years, making the 2015 upstart the country’s third largest animation producer.