16 MAR 2023

Cristiana Buzzelli: “Kids are watching live-action much earlier than it used to be”

The SVP of Contents and Licensing at Rainbow Group analyzes why there is a lot of demand for live-action shows right now, and explains which facilities does this segment offers when it comes to production.


Cristiana Buzzelli


In over 25 years of history, Rainbow Group has established its leading reputation in the entertainment industry, becoming one of the major international players in the creation and production of both animated and live action TV and film products, licensing program development, editorial projects, talent scouting, and merchandising and toy production.

Currently, the company is very focused on production, with titles in different stages of development and aimed at different targets. In particular, Rainbow Group is now actively pitching as finished products the preschool shows “Summer & Todd - Happy Farmers” and “Pinocchio and Friends,” as well as the reboot of its flagship franchise “Winx Club.” Moreover, the company is in early development of some live-action book-based projects for teen and young-adults, as well as comedy for kids 6+ and preschool.

In detail, “Summer & Todd - Happy Farmers” is a brand new preschool show which aims to introduce children to the world of farming and bring them closer to environmental sustainability through funny and educational stories. Meanwhile, “Pinocchio and Friends” is an action-comedy adaptation of Collodi’s classic starring the most famous puppet of all time in a contemporary and hilarious take.

On the other hand, classic franchise “Winx Club” is a modern fantasy saga revolving around the adventures of six fairies, which is now coming to Netflix as a live-action young adult series. The streamer is adapting the Italian animated franchise as a series in which, for the first time, the popular six fairies will turn into real teenagers learning to hone their powers while living together in a magic boarding school.

According to Cristiana Buzzelli, SVP of Contents and Licensing at Rainbow Group, there is a lot of demand for live-action right now. “In the past few years there has been a big demand for preschool content, and now that the preschool space is more crowded, I believe there is a gap both in the kids 6+ animation and live-action, which has been kind of neglected for quite some time in terms of broadcasters,”  she told Señal News.

The opportunities in the live-action segment are also increased by a new demographic sector that recently began to consume this type of content for the first time. “Some years ago, kids were sticking to animation for a longer time. That means that, for example, a 6-8 years-old kid was watching animation and not turning into the live-action space before being in the tween demographic. Now, that life cycle has been shortened, and kids are watching live-action much earlier than it used to be. Therefore, there is now a good opportunity for live-action in the 6+ space, something that did not exist before,”  the executive noted.

Furthermore, for Buzzelli, the live-action space also offers much more facilities when it comes to production. “From the producers stand point, to produce an animated show can take from three to four years, while live-action is a much shorter time in terms of production, because you can shoot in six or eight weeks,” she assured. “Since a couple of years ago Rainbow acquired one of the largest live-action production companies in Italy, Colorado Film, we are full of strength and full speed in this space,”  she added.

Analyzing the current trends in the industry, Buzzelli considers that, from a business point of view, there are more possibilities to do international coproductions, and she thinks that nowadays there are more collaborations between the platforms and networks regarding windows and different types of rights.

Moreover, she believes broadcasters and networks are definitively looking for brands, or shows with an existing fanbase. “They are somehow minimizing the risk of doing something totally original. Therefore, there is a lot of space for book-based projects, shows derived from a videogame or toy, or a reboot from an old animated franchise. Whatever it can give them a sort of starting point or an existing fanbase is very welcome, both from producers and networks or platforms,”  Buzzelli concluded.

By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Marzullo