After 14 years since Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron bagged an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, DreamWorks has teamed up again with Netflix to attract attention of a new generation of kids with Spirit Riding Free, an animated spin-off that will make its US debut on the SVOD giant on May 5.
The series, aimed at girls between ages of 6 to 10, takes place in the 19th century. It follows 12-year-old Lucky, whose mother dies and she leaves high society life to live with her dad in the American West. She then bonds with a horse named Spirit, the offspring of the main characters from the 2002 movie.
According to showrunner Aury Wallington, while there are themes tied into the original movie, the new series has its own unique personality.
“When DreamWorks said they wanted to do a show based on the movie, I was really excited by the thought of having the film’s tone and sense of freedom and adventure,” avers Wallington, an author and writer whose credits include the Cartoon Network series Tower Prep.
“But none of the characters are the same. It’s the next generation from the movie told to the next generation of audiences,” she adds.
The series focuses on three central characters Lucky, Pru and Abigail and consciously taps into the recent TV trend of depicting strong female characters as seen in shows like Sinking Ship’s Annedroids and Elena of Avalor from Disney.
“The Spirit characters are by no means perfect. They get into trouble, make mistakes, fight with their parents and sometimes they get competitive. But they’re never snarky or bratty. I really worked hard to make a show where none of them are mean girls,” says Wallington.
On the licensing front, the show has tapped Just Play to create dolls, play sets, plush and more. And Wallington is particularly enthusiastic about a recent partnership with Breyer which is creating models of the horses from the show.
The series follows in the footsteps of successful projects from Netflix and DreamWorks, like Trollhunters which recently picked up seven Children’s Daytime Emmy nominations and helped Netflix break quarterly sign-up records as the most-watched kids original from the streamer.