Hulu on Monday edged closer to the business of its soon-to-be-majority owner Disney as it announced it was adding four new Marvel animated series to its lineup.
The four series, which will target adults and be comedic in tone, are: “M.O.D.O.K,” featuring an egotistical super villain; “Tigra & Dazzler Show,” about the struggles of two best friends; “Howard The Duck”; and “Hit-Monkey,” about a Japanese snow monkey.
“Animation has an ability to tell stories and tell jokes and make commentary on subjects that live action doesn’t,” said Craig Erwich, Hulu’s senior vice president of originals at the Television Critics Assn.’s winter tour in Pasadena.
The move is part of a larger push by streaming video companies to invest in more original animated series seen as popular among adult audiences and families. Hulu has been owned by several media companies, with Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast/NBCU each owning 30% and Time Warner owning 10%. Disney will own 60% of the service once it completes its acquisition of Fox entertainment assets.
Hulu has been growing its subscribers, reaching more than 25 million people last year across its on-demand and live TV offerings, an increase of 48% from 2017.
“You don’t get that kind of growth without support of our ownership,” Erwich said, adding that he believes Hulu will continue to be a player in the direct-to-consumer strategy of its owners. “We’re focused on bringing a lot of choice to our consumers across a wide variety of genres and I don’t anticipate that will change at all.”
No launch date for the new Marvel shows was announced. Erwich said the deal was an outgrowth of its relationship with Marvel. In 2017, Hulu launched the live action series “Marvel’s Runaways” that features actors and actresses portraying teens with superpowers.
“A good creative experience on one show generally leads to more shows,” Erwich said in an interview.
The senior vice president said the critically acclaimed series “The Handmaid’s Tale” will premiere its third season in June. The start date was pushed back from April to allow more time to maintain the quality of the show, Erwich said. He added that the April 14 start date for season 8 of HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” was not a factor.
Hulu on Monday also announced it is developing a series based on the book “The Devil in the White City,” a deal that involves Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. New shows coming to the platform include “Shrill,” a series starring SNL comedian Aidy Bryant and “Catch 22,” a series based on the popular novel that is executive produced by actor George Clooney and producer Grant Heslov.
Some shows on Hulu have misfired. The streaming platform recently chose not to renew “The First,” a series starring Sean Penn as an astronaut.
“It wasn’t for everybody,” Erwich said, adding Hulu was proud of the show. “Unfortunately, the audience just didn’t materialize for it.”