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Winx Club

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Winx Club
Winx Club CGI logo.png
Genre
Created byIginio Straffi
Directed byIginio Straffi
Composer(s)
  • Giovanni Cera
  • Angelo Poggi
  • Michele Bettali
  • Stefano Carrara
  • Fabrizio Castania
  • Maurizio D'Aniello
  • Peter Zizzo
Country of origin
  • Italy
  • United States (revived series)[2][3]
Original language(s)
  • Italian
  • English (revived series)
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes208 (+ 4 hour-long specials) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Joanne Lee
Kay Wilson Stallings
Running time24 minutes
Production company(s)Rainbow (ViacomCBS)
RAI
Nickelodeon (revived series)
DistributorRainbow (ViacomCBS)
Release
Original networkRai 2, Rai Gulp, Rai YoYo (Italy)
Nickelodeon (international)
Picture formatNTSC: 480i (original series)
HDTV: 1080i (revived series)
Audio formatStereo (original series)
Dolby Surround 5.1 (revived series)
Original releaseOriginal series:
28 January 2004 (2004-01-28)[4] – 13 November 2009 (2009-11-13)
Revived series:
27 June 2011 (2011-06-27) –
17 September 2019 (2019-09-17)
Chronology
Related shows
External links
Website

Winx Club is an Italian-American[a] animated series co-produced by Rainbow SpA and Nickelodeon. It was created by Iginio Straffi. The show is set in a magical universe that is inhabited by fairies, witches, and other mythical creatures. The main character is a fairy warrior named Bloom, who enrolls at Alfea College to train and hone her skills. The series uses a serial format that has an ongoing storyline, with individual story arcs comprising each season. It premiered on 28 January 2004, becoming a ratings success in Italy and on Nickelodeon networks internationally.

Iginio Straffi initially outlined the show's plot to last three seasons. He chose to continue the story for a fourth season in 2009. Around this time, Winx Club's popularity attracted the attention of the American media company Viacom, owner of Nickelodeon. Viacom purchased 30% of the show's animation studio, Rainbow SpA, and Nickelodeon began producing a revival series. Production on the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons was divided between Rainbow and Nickelodeon Animation Studio. To attract an American audience, Viacom assembled a voice cast of Nickelodeon actors (including Elizabeth Gillies and Ariana Grande), invested US$100 million in advertising for the series, and inducted Winx Club into Nickelodeon's franchise of Nicktoons.[5]

Beginning in 2010, episodes of Winx Club have been jointly written with Nickelodeon's American team. Nickelodeon's writers aim to make the series multicultural and appealing toward viewers from different countries. In 2019, Straffi commented on his near-decade of collaboration with Nickelodeon, saying that "the know-how of Rainbow and the know-how of Nickelodeon are very complementary; the sensibilities of the Americans, with our European touch."[6] The continued partnership between Rainbow and Nickelodeon on Winx Club has led to the development of more co-productions, including Club 57 in 2019, on which much of Winx Club's staff worked.

The series was subject to budget cuts in 2014, during its seventh season. The 3D computer-generated segments and Hollywood voice actors were deemed too costly to keep using. The seventh season eventually premiered on Nickelodeon's worldwide channels in 2015. After a four-year hiatus, an eighth season premiered in 2019. At Straffi's decision, this season was retooled for a preschool target audience. Most of the show's longtime crew members were not called back to work on season 8. Straffi stepped away from the series at this time, shifting his focus to Club 57 and other live-action projects. A live-action adaptation of Winx Club for young adults, titled Fate: The Winx Saga, was announced in 2018.[7]

Premise

The main characters of Winx Club are girls who can transform into fairy warriors.

The series follows the adventures of a group of girls known as the Winx, students (and later graduates) at the Alfea College for Fairies, who turn into fairies to fight villains. The team is made up of Bloom, the red-haired leader with flame-based powers; Stella, the fairy of the Sun; Flora, the fairy of nature; Tecna, the fairy of technology; Musa, the fairy of music; and Aisha, the fairy of waves.[8] Roxy, the fairy of animals, occasionally joins the Winx and all three of the show's production companies refer to her as the Winx Club's seventh member.[9][10][11] The main male characters are called the Specialists, a group of students and later graduates of the Red Fountain school who are romantically involved with the Winx fairies. They include Bloom's fiancé Sky; Stella's fiancé Brandon; Flora's boyfriend Helia; Tecna's boyfriend Timmy; and Musa's boyfriend Riven. Unlike their female counterparts, the Specialists do not have magical powers and instead train how to fight using laser weapons. The Winx and Specialists' most common adversaries are a trio of witches named the Trix: Icy, Darcy, and Stormy, all former students of the Cloud Tower school.

Winx Club is set in a vast universe that has several dimensions. Most episodes take place in the Magic Dimension, which is closed off to ordinary people and inhabited by creatures from European mythology like fairies, witches, and monsters. The capital of this world is the city of Magix—which is located on the planet of the same name—where the three main magic schools are situated. The other planets of the Magic Dimension include Bloom's home planet Domino, Stella's home planet Solaria, Flora's home planet Linphea, Tecna's home planet Zenith, Musa's home planet Melody, and Aisha's home planet Andros.[8] Some episodes take place on Earth, Roxy's home planet and where Bloom spent her childhood.[12]

History

Concept and creation

Iginio Straffi, creator of Winx Club

During the 1990s, comic artist Iginio Straffi noticed that action cartoons were mostly focused on male heroes;[13][14] at the time, he felt that the "cartoon world was devoid of female characters."[15] Straffi hoped to introduce an alternative show with a female lead aged 16 to 18, as he was interested in "exploring the psychological side" of the transition to adulthood.[16] He decided to develop a pilot centred on the conflict between two rival colleges; one for fairies and another for witches.[17] Straffi compared his original premise to "a sort of 'Oxford–Cambridge rivalry' in a magical dimension".[18] In expanding the concept, Iginio Straffi drew his inspiration from Japanese manga[19] and the comics of Sergio Bonelli,[20] a comic writer for whom Straffi had worked.[21]

Straffi's pilot, which was titled "Magic Bloom,"[22] featured the original five Winx members in attires similar to those of traditional European fairies.[23] It was produced during a twelve-month development period that included animation tests, character studies, and market surveys.[24] The animation attracted the interest of Rai Fiction,[25] which paid for 25% of the production cost in exchange for Italian broadcast rights and a share of the series' revenue over 15 years.[26] After holding test screenings of the pilot, however, Straffi was unhappy with the audience's unenthusiastic reaction to the characters' outdated clothing style[23] and stated that the pilot did not satisfy him.[25] In a 2016 interview, Straffi said the end result was unoriginal and "looked like just another Japanese-style cartoon ... but nothing like [the modern] Winx ".[27] He likened his feelings about the pilot to an "existential crisis" and chose to scrap the entire test animation despite an investment of over €100,000 in the completed pilot.[25]

To rework the concept, Straffi's Rainbow team hired Italian fashion designers, including some from Dolce & Gabbana[28] and Prada,[29] to restyle the show and give the characters a more modern appearance. The crew changed the show's color palette, replacing the pilot's colour scheme with a brighter collection of hues, and adjusted the skin tone of one of the protagonists to look "more Latin" in an attempt to add diversity to the show.[23] Production of the restyled series began by 2002, and Rainbow estimated the episodes would be delivered to distributors by late 2003.[30] The new name of the series ("Winx") was derived from the English word "wings," and the "x" was intended to evoke the shape and sound of wings.[13] Straffi's aim was to appeal to both genders, including action sequences and displays of power designed for male viewers and fashion elements for female viewers.[30][31] At the October 2003 MIPCOM event, Rainbow screened the show's first episode to international companies.[32] The first season had its world premiere on Italian television channel Rai 2 on 28 January 2004.[33]

From the beginning of development, Iginio Straffi planned an overarching plot that would conclude after 78 episodes.[34] Straffi stated that the Winx saga "would not last forever"[24] in 2007, and he intended the first feature film (Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom) to resolve any plot points remaining from the third season finale.[34] In 2008, Straffi decided to extend the series, citing its increasing popularity.[34]

Nickelodeon revival

In February 2011, the American company Viacom (owner of Nickelodeon) became a co-owner of the Rainbow studio; Viacom bought 30% of Rainbow for 62 million euros (US$83 million).[35] Viacom originally planned to buy out the entire Rainbow studio[36] but wanted to keep Iginio Straffi at the helm, leaving Straffi with 70%.[37] Coinciding with the purchase, Viacom announced that Nickelodeon would team up with the original creator on an "all-new Winx Club" revival series.[38][39] Viacom financed and staffed the revived series, dividing production between Viacom's Nickelodeon Animation Studio[40] in the United States and Rainbow in Italy.

The revived series began with four special episodes that summarize the first two seasons of the original show,[41] followed by the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. As the production team was divided between two countries, Nickelodeon released a statement commenting on how Winx Club was an unusual production for the company: "it's not our usual practice to co-produce cartoons; we make them by ourselves. But we strongly believe in Winx."[2] Along with another brand revival (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Winx Club was officially inducted into Nickelodeon's franchise of Nicktoons,[5] a brand that encompasses original animated productions created for the network. On each episode of the revived series, Nickelodeon approved scripts and all phases of animation.[42] Nickelodeon brought on some of its long-time staff members, such as creative consultant Janice Burgess, and writers Adam Peltzman and Carin Greenberg.[43]

On 7 April 2014, Rainbow and Nickelodeon announced their continuing partnership on the seventh season of Winx Club, with a planned premiere date of 2015.[44] Straffi said of the season: "It will be a privilege to partner once more with Nickelodeon on this."[44] During this season's production, Rainbow was undergoing a multimillion-euro financial loss due to the box office failure of its film Gladiators of Rome.[45] This made them cut costs on Winx Club, its most expensive show. The CGI-animated segments and California voice cast from the previous two seasons were deemed too costly to continue using for season 7. As with the previous two seasons, the copyright to season 7 is co-owned by Rainbow and Viacom.[3] The first episode aired on 22 June 2015, on Nickelodeon in Asia,[46] followed by its broadcast on 21 September 2015 on Rai Gulp in Italy.

External video
video icon Interview clip of Winx Club creator Iginio Straffi in 2019, commenting on his continued work with Nickelodeon.

The president of Nickelodeon International, Pierluigi Gazzolo, was responsible for arranging the co-production partnership and became a member of Rainbow's board of directors (a role he continues to serve in, as of November 2019).[47] In addition to financing the television series, Viacom provided the resources necessary to produce a third Winx film.[48] In 2019, Iginio Straffi commented on the two studios' near-decade of continued work together, saying that "the know-how of Rainbow and the know-how of Nickelodeon are very complementary; the sensibilities of the Americans, with our European touch."[6] Winx Club opened the opportunity for Nickelodeon and Rainbow to collaborate on additional co-productions together, including various pilots from 2014 onward and Club 57 in 2019.[49]

Retooled eighth season

In the last ten years, the animation audience has skewed younger. Nowadays, it's very difficult to get a 10-year-old to watch cartoons ... when your target is 4-to-8, your story cannot have the same level of complexity as the beginning seasons of Winx, where we had a lot of layers ... The fans of the previous Winx Club say on social media that the new seasons are childish, but they don't know that we had to do that.

Iginio Straffi in 2019[6]

The eighth season of the series was not produced immediately after the seventh. It followed a multiple-year hiatus and was not made as a direct continuation of the previous season. At Iginio Straffi's decision, Season 8 was heavily retooled to appeal to a preschool target audience.[6]

For season 8, Rainbow's creative team restyled the characters to appear younger, hoping to increase the appeal toward preschoolers.[6] The plot lines were simplified so that they could be understood by a younger audience.[6] Most of the show's longtime crew members were not called back to work on this season, including art director Simone Borselli, who had designed the series' characters from season 1 to 7, and singer Elisa Rosselli, who had performed a majority of the songs.[50] In another change from previous seasons, Nickelodeon's American team served as consultants rather than directly overseeing the episodes; at the time, Nickelodeon was instead working with Rainbow on a new co-production, Club 57.[6] Season 8 was also the first-ever season without the involvement of Rai Fiction.[51]

Iginio Straffi made the decision to shift the show's intended audience after years of gradually aiming toward a younger demographic. In a 2019 interview,[6] Straffi explained that decreasing viewership from older viewers and an increased audience of young children made this change a necessity. He elaborated that "the fans of the previous Winx Club say on social media that the new seasons are childish, but they don't know that we had to do that."[6] Straffi stepped away from the series at this time and did not oversee season 8's production like he had for the previous installments. He instead shifted his focus to live-action projects aimed at older audiences: Nickelodeon's Club 57 and Fate: The Winx Saga.[6] Straffi explained that "the things we had to tone down [in season 8] have been emphasized in the live action–the relationships, the fights, the love stories." He added that he hopes that Fate will satisfy the "20-year-olds who still like to watch Winx."[6]

Production

Design

A character table for Flora by art director Simone Borselli.

The series' visuals are a mixture of Japanese anime and European elements,[52] which Iginio Straffi calls "the trademark Rainbow style".[19] The main characters' final designs are based on Straffi's original sketches, which were modelled on celebrities popular at the turn of the 21st century. In a 2011 interview with IO Donna, Straffi stated that Britney Spears served as the basis for Bloom, Cameron Diaz for Stella, Jennifer Lopez for Flora, Pink for Tecna, Lucy Liu for Musa, and Beyoncé for Aisha.[20] This approach was part of Straffi's aim for the fairies to represent "the women of today"[15] and look much more modern than classic examples like la Fata Turchina.[53] The three Trix witches were also designed to appear "beautiful and fashionable" to counter the stereotype of ugly witches.[17]

A team of specialized artists designs the characters' expressions and outfits for each season. About 20 tables of expressions and positions from all angles are drawn for each character.[17] The designers start to develop characters' costumes by creating collages from magazine clippings of recent fashion trends. Using these as references, they draw multiple outfits for each character.[54] Simone Borselli, the series' art director, designed most of the characters' early-season clothing despite lacking a background in fashion design. When asked by an interviewer where his fashion intuition came from, Borselli responded, "From being gay."[55]

Writing and animation

The first stage in the production of an episode is developing its script, a process that can last 5–6 months.[56] When the series began production, the writers were based entirely in Italy. After Viacom became a co-owner of Rainbow in 2011, Rainbow's group of 30 writers began collaborating with teams in both Italy and the United States.[54] The international coordination, which has continued through 2019,[54] intends to make scenarios depicted in the program multicultural and accessible to viewers from different countries.[54] Episodes are written with two stories in mind: a longer narrative arc that lasts for tens of episodes and a subplot that concludes at the end of the 22-minute runtime.[57] This episode structure was modelled on those of teen dramas and American comics.[58] Themes written into the series include romance,[8] the acquisition of maturity upon reaching adulthood,[59] and (in the fifth season) nature conservation.[20]

After the script and character designs have been approved, the screenplay is passed onto a group of storyboard artists. For each 22-minute episode, the artists prepare 450 pages of storyboards for each 22-minute episode,[54] which are used to assemble an animatic. At this stage, dialogue and music are added to determine the length of each scene.[60] In the original series (seasons 1–4), the characters' mouths were animated to match the Italian voice actors' lines; in the revived series, the mouth movements were matched to the English scripts.[61] Episodes are worked on concurrently because each requires around two years of work to complete.[54]

At the beginning of the first season, the ten-person production team worked at Rainbow's original headquarters in Recanati.[56] In 2006, Straffi opened a second studio in Rome for computer-animated projects.[62] During the fifth and sixth seasons, 3D CGI sequences were incorporated into the series for the first time, animated at the studio in Rome. According to the Rainbow CGI animators, the animation of the characters' hair in underwater scenes was particularly difficult, and it was animated separately from the characters.[60]

Cast

In Italy, the series' voice actors include Letizia Ciampa (Bloom), Perla Liberatori (Stella), Ilaria Latini (Flora), Domitilla D'Amico (Tecna), Gemma Donati (Musa), Laura Lenghi (Aisha), and Debora Magnaghi (Roxy). According to Ilaria Latini, the characters were cast before any character designs were finalized and the actors were shown black-and-white sketches of their roles.[63] The actors record their lines in Rome.[54] Seasons 1–4 were animated to match the Italian voices.[61] Since season 5, the animation has been synchronized to match the English scripts.[61][64]

The 2011 specials introduced a new cast of Hollywood voice actors, who recorded their lines at the Atlas Oceanic studio in Burbank, California.[65][66] For this cast, Viacom hired popular actors whose names were advertised on-air to attract American viewers; these stars included Ariana Grande as Diaspro,[41] Elizabeth Gillies as Daphne, Keke Palmer as Aisha, Matt Shively as Sky, and Daniella Monet as Mitzi.[67] These actors provided voices for the first two Winx films and seasons three through six. In 2014, Viacom relocated the series' English cast to DuArt in New York City; this was done as a cost-cutting and time-saving measure, since Rainbow was undergoing a significant financial loss at the time. Despite the change in voice actors, the series' animation continued to be matched to Nickelodeon and Rainbow's English scripts for the seventh season.[64]

Music

Fabrizio Castania, one of the show's composers

According to Iginio Straffi, music plays a crucial role in the success of the series. Original pop songs in the "style of Britney Spears and Beyoncé" have been recorded in about 40 languages for the show.[28] Songs are usually drafted in English; Italian lyrics are written after Rainbow has approved the English versions.[68] Frequent composers for the program include Michele Bettali, Stefano Carrara, Fabrizio Castania, and Maurizio D'Aniello. Music is recorded in Milan and Rome, and each song takes between five and twelve months to complete.[69] One of Nickelodeon's composers, Emmy and Grammy Award recipient Peter Zizzo, joined the team during Nickelodeon's joint production of the fifth season. His music is featured in the fifth, sixth,[70] and seventh[71] seasons; he also composed the stand-alone single "We Are Believix" for the show.[72] The single was accompanied by a Nickelodeon live-action music video that was performed by Elizabeth Gillies[73] and was released on iTunes. Six compilation albums based on the show's music have been released; some include songs that do not appear in the television series.[74]

Many of the show's tracks are performed by Italian singer Elisa Rosselli. She was selected during the production of the first Winx film, as Iginio Straffi was seeking a writer and singer for the movie's soundtrack. Straffi looked to Sony Music's archive for inspiration and enjoyed three of Rosselli's songs that were co-produced with Maurizio D'Aniello.[68] After working together on the film, Rosselli continued to produce music for the show (usually in collaboration with D'Aniello or Peter Zizzo)[69] until its seventh season.[68]

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
PilotUnaired
12628 January 2004 (2004-01-28)26 March 2004 (2004-03-26)
22619 April 2005 (2005-04-19)14 July 2005 (2005-07-14)
32629 January 2007 (2007-01-29)28 March 2007 (2007-03-28)
42615 April 2009 (2009-04-15)13 November 2009 (2009-11-13)
SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Specials421 November 2011 (2011-11-21)[b]12 December 2011 (2011-12-12)
52616 October 2012 (2012-10-16)[b]24 April 2013 (2013-04-24)
6266 January 2014 (2014-01-06)[b]4 August 2014 (2014-08-04)
72621 September 2015 (2015-09-21)[b]3 October 2015 (2015-10-03)
82615 April 2019 (2019-04-15)[75]17 September 2019 (2019-09-17)

Broadcast

Winx Club first premiered on the Italian television channel Rai 2 on 28 January 2004.[4] Reruns later began airing on Rai Gulp, a sister channel to Rai 2 aimed at children and teenagers, shortly after the network launched in 2007. On 2 September 2010, Nickelodeon announced through a press release that they would be producing brand-new seasons with Rainbow.[39] Nickelodeon debuted four one-hour specials (also co-produced with Rainbow) summarizing the first two seasons, the first of which premiered on their flagship American channel on 27 June 2011.[41] With the exception of Italy, the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons launched on Nickelodeon channels domestically and internationally.[39]

During the sixth season in 2014, episode premieres were moved from Rai 2 to Rai Gulp in Italy, and from Nickelodeon to Nick Jr. in the United States. The change to younger-skewing networks followed Rainbow's lowering of Winx Club's target demographic to a younger audience than the earlier seasons.[6] The seventh season was jointly announced by Nickelodeon and Rainbow in April 2014 as part of their continuing partnership.[76] In Asia, it premiered on Nickelodeon on 22 June 2015,[46] which was followed by its premieres on Rai Gulp in Italy (21 September 2015) and Nick Jr. in the United States (10 January 2016).

By 2014, the show had been aired in over 150 countries.[35] In 2019, after the Viacom-CBS merger announcement, Informa's Television Business International listed the show among the most important Viacom properties internationally.[77] Third-party broadcasters that acquired the show included China's CCTV,[78] Ireland's TG4,[79] and 4Kids,[80] the last of which aired the series in the United States until their broadcast agreement was permanently revoked by Rainbow in 2009.[28] 4Kids censored and edited the original content in an attempt at localization. Iginio Straffi criticized these adjustments in a 2008 interview, saying, "The Winx fairies cannot talk about boys there. I think this removes something essential."[81] Straffi wanted to launch the series in Japan, but he abandoned the idea due to the country's regulation that foreign content producers must pay for airtime.[28]

Reception

Ratings

Upon its debut, Winx Club was a ratings success. During its first season in 2004, the series became one of the highest-rated programs on Rai 2 with an average audience share of 17%.[29] Among viewers 4–14 years old, the average share was 45%.[29] In France and Belgium, the season reached a 56% share among 10 to 14-year-olds.[82] According to Rai in 2009, the gender mix of Winx Club's audience was nearly equal across the first three seasons; in the target demographic of 4–14 years of age, females represented only 3% more of the audience than males.[83] The premiere of the fourth season set a record for an animated show's audience on Rai 2 with 500,000 viewers.[84] In 2007, Iginio Straffi noted that there were lower ratings in English-speaking territories than in Europe at the time, which he surmised was due to cultural differences.[85]

On 27 June 2011, the first special produced with Nickelodeon premiered on Nick U.S. to 2.278 million viewers.[86] Each of the following three specials performed better than the previous ones, with the fourth ("The Shadow Phoenix") rating #1 in its time slot among viewers aged 2–11.[87] During the first quarter of 2012, an average of 38.5 million viewers watched the series across nine of Nickelodeon's international outlets, a 60% increase from the fourth quarter of 2011.[87] On Nickelodeon UK, Winx Club increased the network's ratings by 58% on its launch weekend in September 2011, ranking as the second-most-popular program on the channel and the most popular show with females aged 7–15.[88] As of 2019, Winx Club and SpongeBob SquarePants are the only animated shows that are still broadcast on Nickelodeon UK's main network.[89]

Critical response

In a New York Times article, Bocconi University professor Paola Dubini stated that the themes and characters of Winx Club appealed to both the target audience and their parents. Dubini wrote that the fairies' "defined and different personalities" made them relatable to viewers.[90] Common Sense Media reviewer Tara Swords gave the show a three-star review, calling it "an imaginative story with bold, take-charge heroines" while also arguing that the show is hindered by its design elements and by "ongoing drama surrounding the main characters' attraction to their male counterparts".[91]

The character designs and outfits have attracted some controversy. In June 2017, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) fined Nickelodeon's Pakistani channel after it aired an episode where the Winx are shown in "indecent" swimsuits.[92] Meenakshi Gigi Durham also took issue with the characters' clothes, writing that the fairies' revealing outfits seem to link "ideal femininity" with body display.[93] Researchers for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media felt that the characters represent an unattainable body image for women.[94]

In an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera, psychotherapist Gianna Schelotto assumed an opposite standpoint. She argued that the Winx are "anti-showgirls" with stories that highlight positive aspects like friendship, guiding female viewers "away from supermodels to which the commercial world drags them".[95] Rhodes University professor Jeanne Prinsloo agreed, saying in 2014 that "in spite of the unrelenting bad press", Winx Club episodes "present complex narratives with active female protagonists and positive relationships that validate 'girl power'".[96] Il Sole 24 Ore also wrote positively about the show's feminist themes, commending how the characters "expose narcissistic masculinity".[97] Responding to criticisms of his art style, Iginio Straffi said in 2007 that the fairies' looks are an "envelope" serving to interest the viewer and are "never vulgar or exaggerated".[52]

Winx Club has attracted academic interest for its presentation of gender roles. In the journal of Volgograd State University, Russian sociologists Georgiy Antonov and Elena Laktyukhina judged that female characters in the series are depicted as dominant, while males are shown to be passive.[98] As examples of women adopting traditionally male roles, they listed the female fairies fighting for their boyfriends, saving them from enemies, and inviting them on dates, while at the same time having difficulty performing household duties like cooking and cleaning.[98] Writing for Kabardino-Balcarian State University, Zalina Dokhova and Tatiana Cheprakova stated that the series conveys "both positive and negative stereotypes",[99] citing the opposite personalities of Stella and Aisha. They wrote that Stella's character incorporates stereotypically feminine passions for shopping and clothes, while Aisha represents a more realistic character with an interest in male-dominated sports.[99]

Cultural impact

Cosplay of the character Roxy in 2014

Winx Club has been popular at fan conventions. For example, in 2012 and 2013, the series had a large presence at Nickelodeon's San Diego Comic-Con booth, where exclusive collectibles were raffled off to fans.[100] In 2015, a four-day Winx Club fan gathering in Jesolo counted 100,000 attendees.[101] In October 2018, an exhibition for the series' fifteenth anniversary was held at Europe's largest comics festival, the Lucca Comics & Games convention in Tuscany.[102]

Federico Vercellino of Il Sole 24 Ore described the series as "an Italian cultural enterprise—the largest since the days of Salgari".[97] He credited the show with opening up Italian media to feminist stories about rebellious female characters, calling it a "phenomenon capable of building today's popular culture".[97] A 2019 study conducted for the Corriere della Sera reported that Winx Club was the fourth-most-popular Italian series outside of the country, with strong demand in Russia and the United States.[103]

In 2018, Giovanna Gallo of Cosmopolitan stated that the program's characters have become "real icons of fashion" and noted the show's popularity with cosplayers,[104] performance artists who wear costumes and accessories to represent the show's characters. Winx Club costumes were the focus of a second-season episode of The Apprentice, in which Flavio Briatore challenged the show's teams to create three Winx outfits intended for females 25–35 years of age, which were to be submitted to the judgment of Iginio Straffi.[105] la Repubblica's Marina Amaduzzi attributed the popularity of Winx-inspired fashion to fans' desire to emulate the characters, stating that "Winx fanatics dress, move and breathe like their heroines".[106]

The Regional Council of Marche, Italy, chose the Winx Club fairies to represent Marche and Italy at the Expo 2010 world's fair in Shanghai.[107] A four-minute video using stereoscopic technology showing the Winx in Marche's tourist destinations was animated for the Italian Pavilion.[107] In 2015, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited Rainbow's studio and wrote that "the Winx are a beautiful story of Italian talent".[108]

Lawsuit

In April 2004,[109] The Walt Disney Company filed an unsuccessful copyright infringement lawsuit against Rainbow.[109] The company accused Rainbow of copying the Winx Club concept from its W.I.T.C.H. comic book,[109] which was published over a year after production on Winx Club began.[110] Disney applied for an injunction order to halt the further release of the Winx Club series and comic magazine; to declare the Winx Club trademark invalid; and to seize the periodical and film material bearing the allegedly infringing Winx Club name.[109] Rainbow won the case against Disney, as they provided proof that Winx Club entered production by 2000, while the W.I.T.C.H. comic was not released until May 2001.[110][111] On 2 August 2004,[112] all of Disney's infringement claims were rejected by the Tribunale di Bologna's Specialized Commercial Matters Department,[109] which deemed them unfounded.[109] The suit later became the subject of a commercial law seminar at the University of Macerata in 2009.[112]

In 2005, Iginio Straffi was interviewed in IO Donna about the legal battle.[110] He was asked how it felt "to be one of Disney's most hated people,"[110] and answered that he—as the founder of a small animation studio—was glad to have "defeated" a massive conglomerate.[110] "I feel a certain pride in having annoyed such a giant. It's inspiring," he elaborated.[110] As a result of the lawsuit, Straffi has avoided doing any business with the Disney corporation; he commented in 2014, "They've lost the chance to explore our creativity."[113]

Related media

Films

Dancers portraying the Winx Club attend the Rome Film Fest premiere of The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

On 8 October 2006, a Winx Club feature film was announced on Rainbow's website. The Secret of the Lost Kingdom was released theatrically in Italy on 30 November 2007.[114] Its television premiere was on 11 March 2012 on Nickelodeon in the United States.[115] The plot takes place after the events of the first three seasons, following Bloom as she searches for her birth parents and fights the Ancestral Witches who destroyed her home planet. Iginio Straffi had planned a feature-length story since the beginning of the series' development, and the film eventually entered production after Straffi founded Rainbow CGI in Rome.[8]

Magical Adventure

On 9 November 2009, a sequel film was announced for a release date in 2010.[116] Winx Club 3D: Magical Adventure was released theatrically in Italy on 29 October 2010.[117] Its television premiere was on 20 May 2013, on Nickelodeon in the United States.[118] In the film, Sky proposes to Bloom, but Sky's father does not approve of their marriage.[116] Production on Magical Adventure began in 2007, while the first film was still in development.[117] It is the first Italian film animated in stereoscopic 3D.[119]

The Mystery of the Abyss

In late 2010, it was announced that Viacom (the owner of Nickelodeon and eventual co-owner of Rainbow) would provide the resources necessary to produce a new Winx film.[48] The film, titled Winx Club: The Mystery of the Abyss, was released in Italy on 4 September 2014.[120] It made its television premiere on Nickelodeon Germany on 8 August 2015.[121] The plot follows the Winx venturing through the Infinite Ocean to rescue Sky, who has been imprisoned by the Trix. According to Iginio Straffi, the film has a more comedic tone than the previous two films.[120]

Spin-offs

PopPixie is a comedy spin-off series that ran for a single season over two months in 2011. It is based on the chibi-inspired Pixie characters from the second season of Winx Club.[122] The series does not feature any of the original characters and is aimed at a younger audience than other Winx content.[123]

World of Winx is a spin-off series that premiered in 2016; Straffi described it as one "with more adult graphics, a kind of story better suited to an older audience"[124] than the original series. It features the Winx travelling to Earth on an undercover mission to track down a kidnapper known as the Talent Thief.[125] 26 episodes over two seasons were produced.[126]

YA live-action adaptation

In March 2018, a live-action adaptation aimed at young adults was announced.[7] As of August 2019, the series is in pre-production with Brian Young set as showrunner and Judy Counihan set as executive producer.[127] Filming will begin in September 2019[127] for a planned release date of 2020. The series will follow the same general story as the animated version[7] and will star Abigail Cowen as Bloom.[128]

Theatre

In September 2005, a live stage musical called "Winx Power Show" began touring in Italy.[129] The musical later expanded to other European countries[129] and the show's cast performed at the 2007 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in Milan.[130] An ice show follow-up starring Carolina Kostner was launched in November 2008.[131] In December 2014, the "Winx Club Musical Show" began in Italy to celebrate the series' tenth anniversary.[132]

Merchandise

Iginio Straffi opened up to licensing Winx Club merchandise in order to finance his studio's other projects;[133] in 2008, he stated that he reinvests "almost everything" back into Rainbow.[16] Across the show's first ten years on air, more than 6,000[35] pieces of tie-in merchandise were released by external licensing companies.[134] As of 2014, Winx Club merchandise licenses generated around €50 million annually,[135] with most of the revenue going toward product licensees rather than Rainbow itself.[35] According to a VideoAge International article, Rainbow's take from merchandise sales averages 10 percent, with some deals only giving the studio five percent.[35] Outside Europe, Mattel[136] released products based on the show until 2012, when Nickelodeon named Jakks Pacific as the series' new merchandising partner.[137] The announcement followed a Winx Club advertising campaign on which Nickelodeon spent US$100 million.[138]

Doll collections based on the show's characters were first released in January 2004 to coincide with its debut.[139] In Italy, the dolls are manufactured by Witty Toys (a division of Rainbow)[140] and distributed by Giochi Preziosi.[136] As of 2016, more than 100 collections had been designed and over 60 million Winx Club dolls had been sold.[141] In 2013, Rainbow relaunched vintage dolls as collectors' items.[142]

An ongoing comic book serial has been published since the series' premiere.[143] Over 180 Italian issues have been released as of 2019. In 2014, the comics' worldwide circulation was 25 million copies, with 55,000 copies sold each month in Italy.[35] In the United States, manga distributor Viz Media translated several of the first 88 issues and released them across nine graphic novel volumes.[144] Other tie-in books unrelated to the comics have been produced, starting with character guides distributed by Giunti Editore.[143] Nickelodeon's partner Random House has published English-language Winx Club books since 2012.[145]

Games

Several console video games based on the show have been produced. The first, Konami Europe's Winx Club, was released on 15 November 2005.[146] Other video games based on the franchise include Winx Club: The Quest for the Codex (2006), Winx Club: Join the Club (2007), Winx Club: Mission Enchantix (2008), Winx Club: Secret Diary (2009), Winx Club: Believix in You (2010), Winx Club: Magical Fairy Party (2012), and Winx Club: Saving Alfea (2014).[147] Magical Fairy Party was released as part of Nickelodeon's partnership with D3Publisher.[147] A physical trading card game based on the franchise and produced by Upper Deck Entertainment was released in 2005.[148]

Notes

  1. ^ In 2011, the American company Viacom became a co-owner of the Rainbow studio.[149] Afterward, new seasons of Winx Club were co-developed between Viacom's Nickelodeon Animation Studio in the U.S. and Rainbow in Italy.[2][40]
  2. ^ a b c d The specials and seasons 5-7 were co-developed with Nickelodeon and premiered on Nickelodeon networks ahead of the Italian broadcasts. Season 5 premiered on Nick U.S. on 26 August 2012, season 6 premiered on Nick U.S. on 29 September 2013, and season 7 premiered on Nick Asia on 22 June 2015.

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External links