Thunderbird Entertainment

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Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc.
Formerly
Thunderbird Entertainment
Golden Secret Ventures Ltd.
Public (TSX-VTBRD)
IndustryFilm
television
PredecessorGolden Sectret Ventures
Founded2003; 16 years ago (2003)
Headquarters
Vancouver, British Columbia
Toronto, Ontario
Los Angeles, California
Key people
Jennifer Twiner McCarron (CEO)
RevenueIncrease $142 million (2018)[1]
Number of employees
1,000 (2018)[2]
SubsidiariesReunion Pictures
Atomic Cartoons
Thunderbird Releasing
Sea to Sky Entertainment
Great Pacific Media
Websitethunderbird.tv

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is a Vancouver-based, publicly-traded multi-platform entertainment company with offices in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto, Ottawa and London (U.K).

Thunderbird creates scripted, unscripted and animated programming for global digital platforms, as well as Canadian and International broadcasters. Thunderbird's vision is 'to produce high quality, socially responsible content that makes the world a better place.'[3] The company develops, produces and distributes animated, factual and scripted content through its various divisions, including Atomic Cartoons (kids and family), Great Pacific Television (factual) and Thunderbird Productions (scripted).

Foundation of the company[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment Group was founded as Thunderbird Films in 2003 by Tim Gamble and Michael Shepard.

In February 2012, it was announced that Lionsgate Founder, Frank Giustra, had made a significant investment to become a major shareholder in Thunderbird,[4] and it was announced the company would make significant investment into scripted television. This announcement coincided with Thunderbird's opening of an office in Los Angeles[5], to have better access to talent and opportunities in Hollywood.

Corporate acquisitions and major partnerships[edit]

Sea to Sky Entertainment[edit]

In March 2012, Thunderbird Entertainment announced a new partnership with Lionsgate to form Sea to Sky Entertainment. The announcement came weeks after Frank Giustra became a major shareholder in Thunder Entertainment. Lionsgate and Thunderbird jointly manage the venture, which is designed to share production and distribution costs for all scripted projects picked up to series.[6]

Reunion Pictures[edit]

On April 4, 2013 it was announced that Thunderbird Entertainment purchased Reunion Pictures. Matthew O'Connor, Lisa Richardson and Tom Rowe, who formed Reunion Pictures in 2004, remain with the company and produce under their own brand, as with Thunderbird[7].

Great Pacific Media[edit]

Great Pacific Media, Canada’s most successful factual production company[8] is a Vancouver-based production company that specializes in financing and the development, production and co-production of documentaries, game shows and reality television. Great Pacific Media was named on Realscreen’s Global 100 list[9] of best production companies working in the non-fiction and unscripted visual content industry for the seventh year in a row[10] and is cited as its productions can be seen in more than 170 territories[11] worldwide.

Great Pacific Media was founded by television veterans Blair Reekie and Mark Miller on May 1st, 2010. Great Pacific Media was acquired by Thunderbird Entertainment in December 2014, but retains its own distinctive corporate identity[12].

Miller retained his role as Chief Executive Officer at Great Pacific Media after the acquisition and was subsequently appointed co-president of Thunderbird Entertainment in 2016.[13] In April 2016, it was announced that former Bell Media executive Paul Lewis had joined Great Pacific Media in the role of President.[14] In January 2019, television industry veteran Wendy McKernan was named Vice President of Great Pacific Media.[15]

Great Pacific Media currently produces the Discovery Canada series Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue: 401, both of which also stream globally on Netflix.[16] Other series include Save My Reno and Worst to First, which airs on HGTV, and Queen of the Oil Patch, which aired on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).[17]

Thunderbird Releasing[edit]

In September 2014, it was announced that Thunderbird Entertainment acquired Thunderbird Releasing. Thunderbird Releasing is a London-based all-rights film distribution company, with a division in Canada, specializing in arthouse, independent and world cinema. Established in 2002 by Eve Gabereau and Edward Fletcher, the company releases 25-plus films a year and has a library of over 300 titles.

Films distributed in the UK and Ireland include, Hirookazu Kore-eda's Palme d'Or and Golden Globes-winning film Shoplifters (2018), Sara Colangelo's award-winning drama The Kindergarten Teacher (2019), and may el-Toukhy's Sundance hit Queen of Hearts (2019).

Atomic Cartoons[edit]

On July 8, 2015, Thunderbird Entertainment acquired the Vancouver-based animation studio Atomic Cartoons.[18] Atomic Cartoons is now referred to as "Thunderbird's Kids and Family Division", though it also retains its own distinctive corporate identity.

Atomic Cartoons was founded in 1999 by Trevor Bentley, Mauro Casalese, Olaf Miller and Rob Davies. It now employs more than 500 artists at production hubs in Vancouver and Ottawa, in addition to maintaining an office in Los Angeles. Throughout its history, Atomic Cartoons has worked with partners such as Marvel Animation, Netflix, Disney, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., Lego, Mattel, Spin Master and Nelvana. Atomic's productions include Emmy-award winning Beat Bugs, the upcoming Netflix series The Last Kids on Earth, the Disney show 101 Dalmatian Street, Counterfeit Cat, Minecraft Mini Series, Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Max & Ruby and LEGO Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit.

Jennifer Twiner McCarron currently serves as chief executive officer, a role she was appointed to in 2016, after previously serving as Atomic's Head of Development. In 2018, Twiner McCarron was appointed chief executive officer for Thunderbird Entertainment Group, while also retaining the role of CEO at Atomic Cartoons[19].

In 2019. Mathew Berkowitz was named the company's Chief Creative Officer for both Thunderbird Entertainment and Atomic Cartoons.

Initial public offering[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc. became a publicly traded company on the TSX Venture Exchange on November 2, 2018[20]. It trades under the symbol (TSXV: TBRD). Thunderbird's Board is composed of Ivan Fecan (Executive Chair), Frank Giustra, Tim Gamble, Jennifer Twiner McCarron, Mark Miller, Francesco Aquilini, Frank Holmes, Brian Paes-Braga, Paul Sparkes and Azim Jamal.

[edit]

The Thunderbird is a mythological creature born from the rich narrative tradition of Canada's First Nations people in the Pacific Northwest. The Thunderbird is often carved at the top of totem poles, which are monuments that traditionally bring communities together to illustrate their stories.

The artwork in the logo which depicts abstract elements of the Thunderbird legend, was commissioned from First Nations artist Corrine Hunt for Vancouver-based television production company Thunderbird. Hunt, also the co-creator of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic medals, captures the story of the company's namesake, while honouring the roots of the First Nations people through artistic expression.

Current productions[edit]

Kim's Convenience[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment began production on a 13 episode first season of the new half-hour comedy series Kim's Convenience, which premiered on October 11, 2016 on CBC. The series is based on the award-winning play by Ins Choi, who serves as series creator along with Kevin White (Schitts Creek, Corner Gas). Executive Producers on Kim's Convenience are Ivan Fecan, Tim Gamble, Alexandra Raffé, Leslie Lester, Albert Schultz, Ins Choi and Kevin White. Supervising Producers are Sandra Cunningham and Robin Cass. The series stars Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Simu Liu, Andrea Bang, Andrew Phung and Nicole Power. The series recently aired its third season on CBC, and a fourth season began production in spring 2019.

Highway Thru Hell[edit]

Highway Thru Hell debuted on Discovery Canada on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.[21] It is a factual TV series that follows the operations of a heavy vehicle rescue and recovery towing company; Jamie Davis Motor Trucking, based in Hope, British Columbia.[22] Other companies involved in the series include Quiring Towing[23], Aggressive Towing and Mission Towing.[24] Highway Thru Hell focuses on the hardships of operating along the highways of the BC Interior, especially the Coquihalla Highway (Coq) and the work it takes to keep some of the most economically important, most travelled, and most inhospitable trucking routes in North America open.[25] In 2019, Highway Thru Hell was nominated for Best Musical Score and Best Picture Editing for a documentary series in the Leo Awards[26]. The series airs on Discovery Canada, streams globally on Netflix and airs on The Weather Channel in the United States[27]. The eighth season premiered in October 2019.

Save My Reno[edit]

This television series is focused on helping homeowners complete renovations to transform their space on a limited budget[28]. This series is hosted by contractor Sebastian Clovis, a former Canadian Football League player[29] and designer, editor and TV personality Samantha Pynn[30].

The series premiered in 2014 under the title Tackle My Reno, featuring Clovis assisting homeowners with renovations on his own.[31] In 2016,  the show relaunched as Save My Reno, with Clovis and designer Sabrina Smelko hosting the retooled show as a duo.[32] For the third season, which will premiere in 2020, Clovis is joined by Pynn[33], with Smelko exiting the series[34]. It is produced for HGTV Canada.[35]

Beat Bugs[edit]

It was announced in February 2016 that Atomic Cartoons would be a co-producer on the series, which began streaming on Netflix August 3, 2016. The series features original characters and a world created by Australian native Josh Wakely, who directs, writes and produces the series, following a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing for worldwide rights to record covers of the Beatles song catalog.

Beat Bugs incorporates songs from the Lennon/McCartney "Northern Songs" catalog. The show will feature some of the best-known Beatles songs woven into the narrative of each episode, with Eddie Vedder, Pink, James Bay, Sia, The Shins, Of Monsters and Men, Chris Cornell, Regina Spektor, and James Corden each recording their rendition of an iconic song. Among the songs featured are "Help!", "All You Need Is Love", "Come Together", "Penny Lane", "Yellow Submarine", "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Magical Mystery Tour".

Season three of the series began streaming in November 2018

Queen of the Oil Patch[edit]

Queen of the Oil Patch is a Canadian documentary series that premiered in 2018. It follows the inspirational journey of one man with two spirits – Massey Whiteknife and Iceis Rain – working to break down barriers in the heart of Alberta oil country[36]. Having faced both childhood sexual abuse and bullying as a teenager because he was gay[37], Whiteknife first created the drag persona of Iceis Rain after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.[38] According to Whiteknife, Iceis Rain helped him to become more secure and confident in himself and his business career, and to heal from his childhood emotional traumas.[39]

The series is produced for APTN in collaboration with Kah-Kitowak Films.[40] Season two is currently in production, with filming taking place in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the Mikisew Cree First Nation.

Worst to First[edit]

Worst to First is a Canadian lifestyle series that features contractors Sebastian Sevallo and Mickey Fabbiano[41], as they guide aspiring homeowners through the journey of purchasing and renovating undervalued and outdated homes in the Greater Vancouver area, aiming to transform them from the worst in the neighborhood to the best on the block[42]. For the second season, Catherine Yuen, a Vancouver-based interior designer, was added to the series[43]. It is produced for HGTV Canada.

Heavy Rescue: 401[edit]

Heavy Rescue: 401 is a Canadian factual TV series that premiered on Discovery Canada in October 2016.[44] It was the most-watched premiere in the Discovery network’s history.[45] It is an indirect spin off of Highway Thru Hell.[46] The show focuses on the work of heavy recovery operators in Southern Ontario that work to keep the region's highways clear of wrecks and keep traffic moving[47]. This is no easy task, as these roads are among the busiest in the world, with up to 400,000 vehicles passing through every day.[48] In addition to airing on Discovery Canada, the series also streams globally on Netflix, and airs on The Weather Channel in the United States.[49] The fourth season will premiere in January 2020.[50]

Upcoming productions[edit]

The Last Kids on Earth[edit]

On September 26, 2017, it was announced that Thunderbird Entertainment's kids and family division, Atomic Cartoons, had optioned the screen rights on Max Brallier's book series The Last Kids on Earth with the intention of producing an animated television series.

On February 26, 2018, it was announced that Netflix had given the production series order. Executive producers include Brallier, Scott Peterson, Jennifer Twiner McCarron, and Matthew Berkowitz. Brallier and Peterson are also expected to write the series as well. Production companies involved in the series include Thunderbird Entertainment's animation studio Atomic Cartoons.

On March 13, 2019, the series cast was announced, including Mark Hamill, Rosario Dawson, Catherine O'Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, Garland Whitt, Montse Hernandez, Charles Demers, and Nick Wolfhard as the lead character Jack Sullivan.

The series is scheduled to premiere on Netflix in 2019.

High Arctic Haulers[edit]

Great Pacific Media is currently producing a series called High Arctic Haulers for CBC Television[51].  The series examines Canada’s resilient northern communities, and the determined men and women who help provide their lifeline to the outside world.[52] These groups are linked together by the summer sealift, when ships loaded with critical cargo travel each year to the farthest reaches of the north to deliver food, clothing, supplies and vital pieces of infrastructure. The series is scheduled to premiere on CBC in January 2020.[53]

Princesses Wear Pants[edit]

In 2018, it was announced that Thunderbird's kids and family division, Atomic Cartoons, had acquired the IP for Savannah Guthrie and Alison Oppenhiem's New York Times bestselling book series, Princesses Wear Pants. They are currently in development on an animated TV series, in collaboration with Drew Barrymore's Flower Films.

Eerie[edit]

In 2018, Atomic Cartoons announced a second collaboration with the bestselling author Max Brallier, based on his book series for young adults, Eerie Elementary. The series will include live-action and feature animated elements. This is the second collaboration between Atomic Cartoons and Brallier, with the first being The Last Kids on Earth, currently in development for Netflix.

The Marrow Thieves[edit]

In 2019. Thunderbird confirmed that author Cherie Dimaline will work with TV writer and producer Jennica Harper to adapt Dimaline's award-winning novel, The Marrow Thieves, for television.

The Teenager and the Lost Mayan City[edit]

The Teenager and the Lost Mayan City is an episode currently in production for the CBC documentary series, The Nature of Things.[54] It will follow the journey of teenager William Gadoury, who in May 2016 made headlines around the world when he announced he’d discovered the location of a lost Mayan city using NASA satellite images and an ancient Mayan map of the stars.[55] Although currently in production, an air date for the episode is not currently known.[56]

Past productions[edit]

Somewhere Between[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment commenced production on a 10 episode first season of the new drama-thriller Somewhere Between in March 2017. The series aired on ABC in the summer of 2017, and was written by Legend of the Seeker and Taxi Brooklyn co-creator Stephen Tolkin. Based on a Korean format, Somewhere Between centers on Laura Price (Paula Patton). She isn't crazy: She knows her daughter Serena is going to be murdered. She doesn't know who the murderer is or why she'll be killed, but she knows exactly when it will happen, where and how. Despite this, all of her attempts to keep her daughter safe fail, and Serena's fixed, unmovable, terrifying fate keeps her directly in the path of her killer.

Tolkin executive produced the series with Thunderbird's Executive Chair of the Board Ivan Fecan and Joseph Broido.

Blade Runner 2049[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment owns a 50 percent stake in the Blade Runner franchise and was an active partner in the production of Blade Runner 2049.[57] In August 18, 2011, it was announced that Ridley Scott had signed on to direct and produce the new instalment of Blade Runner[58].

On February 27, 2015 it was announced that Canadian Director Denis Villeneuve would be directing the sequel, and on February 28, 2015 it was confirmed that Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Rick Deckard.[59] On May 21, 2015, award-winning Cinematographer Roger Deakins joined the Blade Runner sequel.

In addition to Ford, the film starred Ryan Gosling. Other cast members include Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri and Mackenzie Davis. Tim Gamble and Frank Giustra served as Executive Producers on behalf of Thunderbird Entertainment. The film was released in 2017.

Package Deal[edit]

On May 29, 2012 CityTV's original content team announced that it had commissioned Package Deal, a new comedy series produced by Thunderbird Entertainment and created by Andrew Orenstein (Malcolm in the Middle, 3rd Rock from the Sun). Package Deal was a 13-episode, half-hour, multi-camera original comedy about three overly close brothers and the woman who comes between them.[60] On April 1, 2013 it was announced that Package Deal would begin airing on the CityTV network starting Monday, May 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm PST.[61] The second season premiered on CityTV on September 12, 2014, and on April 20, 2015, it was announced by Thunderbird that the sitcom would be made available to stream in the US on Hulu. Package Deal stars Randal Edwards, Harland Williams, Jay Malone, Julia Voth and Jill Morrison.

Mr. Young[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment and Corus Entertainment commenced production on a 26 episode first season of the comedy series Mr. Young in October 2010. The series was created by Dan Signer (The Suite Life on Deck, A.N.T. Farm), and stars Brendan Meyer, Matreya Fedor and Gig Morton. Mr. Young centers on child prodigy Adam Young (Brendan Meyer), who graduated from university at the age of 14. He decides to come back to high school to live the high school experience, only he becomes the science teacher at the school. With one-foot in the lunch room and the other foot in the staff room, it's Mr. Young's social life that's being put to the test.[62] On April 29, 2011 Mr. Young was renewed for a 26 episode second season.[63] The series was renewed for a third season in April 2012. Thunderbird began production of a 28 episode third season on May 10, 2012.[64] The show ended its run on November 28, 2013 with three seasons and 80 episodes. Mr. Young was broadcast on YTV in Canada and Disney XD in the United States.[62] Now is it available to stream on Netflix.

Some Assembly Required[edit]

Thunderbird Entertainment and Corus Entertainment commenced production on a 26 episode first season of the comedy series Some Assembly Required, which premiered on YTV on January 6, 2014. The series was created by Dan Signer (The Suite Life on Deck, A.N.T. Farm), and Howard Nemetz (Mr. Young, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) and stars Kolton Stewart, Charlie Storwick and Harrison Houde. Some Assembly Required tells the story of Jarvis Raines (Kolton Stewart), an average teenager who becomes boss overnight after he sues a toy company over a defective chemistry set that blows up his house. Jarvis' first act as CEO of Knickknack Toys is to recruit a group of kids from his high school to help him run the company.

On January 5, 2015, Some Assembly Required returned to YTV for an 18 episode second season. The series was renewed for a third season in August 2015, and began production of 13 new episodes that same month. Some Assembly Required is broadcast on YTV in Canada, and on February 25, 2015 it was announced that Netflix acquired season one, which began streaming worldwide outside of Canada on June 19, 2015. On October 16, 2015 Netflix began streaming season two of the series. The 3rd season of "Some Assembly Required" aired a 13 episode season on March 14, and its series finale aired on YTV June 6, 2016 in Canada.

Endgame[edit]

Endgame is a Drama Series that was developed and produced by Thunderbird Entertainment.[65] The series premiered on Showcase Television network on Monday, March 14, 2011.[66] In the US, Endgame was broadcast exclusively on Hulu.[67] The series follows former World Chess Champion Arkady Balagan, a genius who uses his analytical skills to solve crimes. Endgame stars Shawn Doyle (Big Love, 24) as Arkady Balagan and features Patrick Gallagher (Glee), Torrance Coombs (Heartland), Katharine Isabelle (Da Vinci's Inquest, Supernatural) and Carmen Aguirre (The L Word).

Awards[edit]

Kim's Convenience[edit]

For the 5th Canadian Screen Awards in 2017, Kim's Convenience garnered 11 nominations, including Best Comedy Series, Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Lee), Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Yoon and Bang), and Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Phung).[68] Lee won the award for best actor in a continuing leading comedic role for his portrayal of Appa,[69] and Phung won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Kimchee.[70]

Kim's Convenience won two awards at the 2017 Toronto ACTRA Awards, Outstanding Performance – Female for actress Jean Yoon and the Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award for Best Cast.[71][72]

The first-season episodes "Ddong Chim" and "Janet's Photos" are 2017 Writers Guild of Canada's Canadian Screenwriting Awards finalists in the TV comedy category.[73]

At the 6th Canadian Screen Awards in 2018, the series received 12 nominations. It won the awards for Best Comedy Series, Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Lee) and Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Phung).

At the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the series was not eligible to be nominated because its broadcast slot moved from fall to winter. Case member Andrew Phung, however, was nominated for the Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award, for his portrayal of Kimchee on the popular series.

Beat Bugs[edit]

The program received an AWGIE Award in animation for an episode script in 2016, an AACTA Award for Best Children's Television Series and a Daytime Emmy Award in 2017.

At the 2019 Daytime Emmy Awards, the Beat Bugs series won for Outstanding Sound Mixing in a Preschool Animated Program.

Catalogue of shows[edit]

Scripted TV series[edit]

Factual TV series[edit]

  • Airshow
  • Game of Homes
  • Untold Stories of the ER
  • Daily Planet - Segments
  • Megaroof: Rebuilding BC Place
  • Air Dogs
  • The Mistress
  • Monster Quake: Japan
  • Monster Quake: Chile
  • Model Killers
  • Scared of my Shadow
  • Peak to Peak
  • The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp
  • Industrious
  • Heroines
  • Confessions: Animal Hoarding
  • Campus Vets
  • Bulging Brides
  • Animal Miracles with Alan Thicke
  • Makeover Wish
  • Prisoners of Age
  • Miss Landmine
  • Raising Big Blue
  • 1800 Seconds: Chasing Canada’s Snowbirds
  • My Evil Sister

Animated series[edit]

References[edit]

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