Iginio Straffi, creator of the magical TV franchise Winx Club and founder of his production company Rainbow SpA, was a little surprised when Netflix canceled the live-action Fate: The Winx Saga after two seasons. But he also sees it as an opportunity.
“I have yet to hear what Netflix officially has to say,” Straffi said in an exclusive interview with diversity after learning from showrunner Brian Young that the series was axed. “I will speak to Netflix to understand what happened.”
The cancellation of ‘Winx Saga’ means that Straffi, who created the six trending fairies who have become a global IP, is now launching a long-planned live-action ‘Winx’ film with a budget in excess of US$100 million -dollar can advance. It’s “probably the most important project of my entire career,” he said.
For its creator, turning “Winx” into a live-action film series is the culmination of the saga’s journey.
“We started with the TV series, which had a more accessible budget and was a little easier to fund. Netflix believed in that and I think they got a good return on investment,” he said.
Now, after years of standing firm and Straffi saying he’s had many opportunities to make a “low budget” live-action “Winx” film, he believes the time has come to make a big feature film with ” everything” to make the strong elements that it needs.”
“These will include not only the relationships of the characters at school – which the Rainbow Animation TV series is centered around – but also the more epic fantasy aspect of the franchise: transfigurations, battles with witches, the Trix,” Straffi said in Allusion to the trio of witches who act as the fairies’ main antagonists. He now aspires to “make something more like a Harry Potter or superhero movie” than Rainbow’s previous “Winx” products.
“The audiences I want to target are those who, like Netflix series audiences, look back nostalgically to the original animated series 20 years ago, but also families who want to go to the movies with kids as young as 10,” Straffi said. “The Netflix series drew heavily on the existing characters, but also created a slightly darker mood.”
He added: “There will be dark tones, but the mood will be closer to the DNA of the animated series – especially the bad guys, The Trix, [whom] Everyone has been waiting for this in the third part of the Netflix series.”
Straffi will be heading to LA next week to shop for the big-budget feature film in US studios, but it will be a “Winx” movie, not a “Fate” movie, he said.
Meanwhile, a ninth installment in the animated TV series Winx Club, which originally enchanted teenage girls around the world, is also in the works, produced by Rainbow with Italy’s RAI Ragazzi product unit, with plans for a 2024 completion date. Straffi called the new animated series “a very important reboot” that is “written in a style that’s more relatable to today’s youth while retaining the ‘Winx’ DNA.”
“It’s very carefully thought out. The language and rhythm will be very original, with a storytelling style that’s a little more like live action,” he said.
As for why Netflix decided not to do a third season of Fate: The Winx Saga, Straffi said he was surprised because season two “was a top Netflix show in all the top territories of the world, at least before ‘ The Dahmer phenomenon is gone.”
“We’re talking millions of viewers,” he said. “The numbers were a bit lower than in the first season, but that is also due to the competition, which was different than two years ago. From what we’re being told, there were several considerations Netflix made. They ranged from economic, of course, since the third season would have cost more than the previous ones due to rising costs for talent and the fact that numbers had decreased. But I don’t really know.”
Straffi also cited the fact that Rainbow negotiated the licensing of the rights, chose the showrunner, and produced the first season of Fate: The Winx Saga with Netflix’s US headquarters. Due to the streamer’s own reorganization, the Netflix UK team was responsible for the second season of Fate, which was filmed in Ireland. “I think that might have made a difference. They had less ownership of that show,” he said.
But he did point out that he’s now contractually free to pursue his live-action ‘Winx’ movie ambitions: “The fact that Netflix hasn’t renewed season 3 gives me an advantage because I now have other live action products.”