Kartoon Studios to Launch Winnie-the-Pooh Megabrand


Kartoon Studios has set plans to launch a Winnie-the-Pooh megabrand, with an animated holiday movie, five holiday specials and a four-year, 104-episode series for Prime Video to celebrate the 100th anniversary of A. A. Milne’s original publication.

Alliance Entertainment will debut new merchandise through a U.S. retail program in conjunction with Kartoon Studios’ rollout of a global consumer products campaign. The animated holiday movie, set to premiere on December 24, 2025, is already in preproduction.

Kartoon Studios’ Winnie-the-Pooh animated content is being developed with a “yarn-based” design and palette for the characters and backgrounds, along with original modern stories inspired by A. A. Milne’s classic books. The stories will be told in a Seussian-style rhyme to provide extra dimension. It is being directed by Emmy Award-winning director Michael Maliani. Sam Morrison, member of the writing team behind Peppa Pig, is head writer.

The animated series is being financed through joint venture production financing of $30 million provided by WTP SPV 1, a subsidiary of Catalyst Venture Partners. It is non-dilutive production financing.

Ryan Gagerman has been tapped to lead the worldwide consumer products rollout as head of global licensing for Kartoon Studios’ Winnie-the-Pooh. He previously held the positions of global licensing director at Electronic Arts, VP in the consumer products and recreation group of Paramount Pictures and VP of global consumer products at DIC Entertainment.

Kartoon Studios’ Paul Robinson, former managing director of Disney Channel Worldwide and current president of Kartoon Channel! Worldwide and head of international sales, will drive international sales of the megabrand’s animated content.

“Disney created an iconic and tremendously successful global brand with Winnie-the-Pooh that we have all admired so much over many decades.” said Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Kartoon Studios. “When the property went into the public domain, we knew we could only undertake creating Pooh for a new generation if we could bring a completely new, different and unique look that was contemporary, protectable and gave voice to the characters and stories created by A. A. Milne, as has never been done. We are thrilled to launch with Prime Video and Alliance Entertainment to deliver unique and exceptional content as we build out a new iteration of this entertainment brand and Winnie-the-Pooh-branded consumer products to the global marketplace.”

“In designing Kartoon Studios’ Winnie-the-Pooh, we combined the best of both AI and human creativity to arrive at the unique look of the characters and backgrounds that could not have been imaginable prior to the advent of AI in our industry,” continued Heyward. “Our use of our AI platform will enable us to bring a level of efficiency, speed-to-market and creativity to the production heretofore not possible. At a time when our world can be confusing for children, Pooh is an oasis of goodness, grounded in family, friendship, kindness and love. Those are the exact values our version of Pooh will showcase as we focus on building Kartoon Studios’ Winnie-the-Pooh into a long-term global megabrand, through which the simple and comforting values A. A. Milne originally imagined will endure forever.”

Heyward added, “We think this is a generational opportunity to capitalize on one of the greatest properties ever created, with a proven track record. Audiences around the world are demanding healthy, positive, family-friendly stories that will inspire and entertain kids, alongside a new line of products, from toys to books, videos to apparel, and more, that are steeped in these enriching values.”

“We have committed to provide $30 million to the special purpose joint venture for this exciting new version of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh from Kartoon Studios, which is non-dilutive to any of TOON’s existing stakeholders,” said Steven A. Horowitz, senior managing director of WTP SPV and its parent company, Catalyst Venture Partners. “Being able to participate in a timeless and proven children’s classic such as Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, through the production of original animated content and the licensing of consumer products from those proprietary character designs and stories, is a unique opportunity we are very excited about. Andy Heyward and the team at Kartoon Studios have a long history of producing hit properties for children. An all-star array of award-winning talent across development, production, marketing, consumer products and distribution has been assembled to manage the brand launch, and we are excited to be a part of what we are confident will be a hugely profitable and enduring business.”

“Content sales are essential, but it is the sale of licensed consumer products that drive outsized returns and truly excites our group,” Horowitz added. “During a week where an animated film dominated the global box office for the second week in a row [Inside Out 2], we are reminded of the importance of proven brands and stories that speak to families and the fundamental appeal of animation. The team Kartoon Studios has assembled to lead this exciting new Winnie-the-Pooh is world-class and knows exactly how to make great content for kids, build impactful global entertainment brands, and drive a global consumer products business.”

On Gagerman and Robinson’s addition to the team behind the megabrand, Heyward said, “Years ago, I had the privilege to work with Ryan Gagerman when he oversaw the global rollout of Strawberry Shortcake, which generated over $5 billion dollars of retail sales under his leadership. He is the perfect executive to spearhead our global consumer products and retail program for this brand. Similarly, Paul Robinson, a renowned industry executive and our head of international, will no doubt deliver on the global distribution, creating global awareness for this new and exciting version of the A. A. Milne classic.”

“Capitalizing on the enormous equity inherent in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, the unique designs and storytelling, as well as the production efficiency by harnessing AI, Kartoon Studios’ new iteration of the timeless brand will have an exceptional array of attributes that we believe can lead to extraordinary profitability for the company,” Heyward added.