EXCLUSIVE: Magic: the Gathering, Netflix’s CG-animated series adaptation of the popular tabletop trading-card game, has put in place a new creative team led by executive producer Jeff Kline (Transformers: Prime).
The animated project was originally announced in 2019 with Joe and Anthony Russo at the helm. I hear the Russos and their team, including head writers Henry Gilroy and Jose Molina, departed early in the process over different visions for how best to adapt the IP. The parting of the ways was amicable, and Netflix subsequently tapped Kline to oversee the creation of an all new storyline and expand on the stories of the Planeswalkers, Magic’s unique magic-wielding heroes and villains.
Kline’s team includes Co-Executive Producer and Story Editor Steve Melching (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Supervising Director Audu Paden, Art Ddirector Izzy Medrano and Writers Nicole Dubuc, Russell Sommer & Dan Frey, and Taneka Stotts. The Russo brothers were involved in the transition and met with Kline.
“I’m grateful to the Russos for bringing me into the world of Magic: The Gathering – specifically, over dinner at one of their go-to Cleveland restaurants,” Kline said. “Magic is one of those rare intellectual properties with such a wellspring of mythology that “picking and choosing” is half the battle. Every single person working on the series understands how beloved this universe is – and feels both the exhilaration and tremendous pressure that comes with translating Magic across mediums.”
For the Magic: the Gathering TV adaptation, Netflix in 2019 partnered with Hasbro, the Rhode Island-based toymaker, and Wizards of the Coast, the Seattle outfit that publishes both the Magic card game and Dungeons & Dragons. Hasbro, which has owned Wizards of the West Coast since 1999, subsequently acquired independent studio Entertainment One which will represent the company on the series.
“While the Russo Brothers are no longer part of the animated series, their passion for the game combined with their early creative perspective and input helped us to shape the project to a place where we believe fans of the game and those new to the ‘Gathering Universe’ will enjoy the series and discover what millions of fans around the globe have known for the past 25 years,” eOne, Wizards of the Coast and Netflix said in a joint statement.
The animation will be done by Snowball Studios, taking over the originally announced Bardel Studio.
In addition to the classic tabletop trading card game, the Magic franchise has expanded to Magic: The Gathering Arena on PC and mobile and fiction across the web, comics and a New York Times bestselling novel. It boasts combined 40 million fans with publications in eleven languages in over 70 countries.
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