EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon is expanding its Fred franchise, which kicked off with the 2010 smash Fred: The Movie, seen by 8.7 million viewers in its premiere. The kids cable network has greenlighted a third film as well as a 20-episode series of 11-minute self-contained episodes. The move comes on the heels of last month’s debut of Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred, which delivered 5.7 million total viewers. The series is slated to start production at the end of the year for a premiere in early 2012. It will be followed by Fred 3‘s debut later in the year. Like the first 2 movies, the third one and the series star Lucas Cruikshank and are based on the Fred character the teen comic created in a series of YouTube videos. The series marks Fred‘s return to the short-form it originated in online. “It will be a mash-up of the original Fred and what we have done with the movies,” Brian Robbins said. Robbins’ Varsity Pictures and The Collective, which together financed the first movie, are back as producers of the new film and series. Cruikshank, Varsity’s Robbins and Sharla Sumpter-Bridgett and The Collective’s Evan Weiss and Gary Binkow are executive producing.
Cruikshank first introduced Fred Figglehorn, a fictional 6-year-old who has a dysfunctional home life and anger management issues, on a Fred YouTube channel, which launched in April 2008. A year later, the channel had more than one million subscribers and got the attention of Robbins and management-production company The Collective. “It’s amazing,” Robbins said. “Two years ago, Lucas was a kid making videos from his house in Nebraska. Now he’s got 3 movies and a series.”