“DreamWorks Dragons” is flying onto Netflix.
The children’s television series based on the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise will air its new seasons on Netflix Inc.’s streaming service starting in spring 2015, moving the popular show from the Cartoon Network and bolstering Netflix’s partnership with the series’ studio, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.
The “DreamWorks Dragons” show takes place in the time between the original “How to Train Your Dragon” film, released in 2010, and the franchise’s sequel, set for release on June 13. The series follows Hiccup, a teenage boy in a mythical Viking land voiced by “She’s Out of My League” actor Jay Baruchel, and Toothless, his beloved dragon.
Netflix has picked up the third and fourth seasons of the show, though there are no plans to put the first and second seasons that ran on the Cartoon Network into Netflix’s library. Many of the film’s voice-actor stars, including Mr. Baruchel and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), will reprise their roles for the series.
Each new “Dragon” season will have about 26 episodes, released on a staggered schedule.
DreamWorks is hoping to build the “Dragon” franchise into a lasting powerhouse of sequels, spinoffs and ancillary businesses like consumer products. The original “Dragon” film grossed nearly $500 million worldwide when it was released in 2010, and the sequel is expected to be one of the summer’s biggest hits.
Netflix is emerging as a key partner in DreamWorks’s company-wide diversification plans. The streaming service is planning three other shows with the studio, including a “Puss in Boots” series starring the “Shrek” feline, for later this year. The television deals give DreamWorks another outlet for revenue outside of the traditional box-office, where three recent studio efforts, including the March release “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” have underperformed and forced write-downs.
The Netflix series “Turbo Fast,” based on the studio’s summer 2013 movie, premiered about five months after the film’s theatrical run. The movie was considered a disappointment in theaters, grossing about $282 million worldwide, but the related deal with Netflix has been cited by company executives as a bit of a back-stop to the box-office performance.
Netflix doesn’t release ratings data to show how popular its shows are, but DreamWorks Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg told investors shortly after the “Turbo Fast” series launched that it was “on track to become one of the most popular kids series ever on [Netflix].”