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Winx Club
Winx Club CGI logo.png
Genre
Created by Iginio Straffi
Directed by Iginio 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)
Original language(s)
  • Italian
  • English (revived series)
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 208 (+ 4 hour-long specials) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Joanne Lee
Kay Wilson Stallings
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) Rainbow (ViacomCBS)
RAI
Nickelodeon (revived series)
Distributor Rainbow (ViacomCBS)
Release
Original network RAI channels (Italy)
Nickelodeon (international)
Picture format NTSC: 480i (original series)
HDTV: 1080i (revived series)
Audio format Stereo (original series)
Dolby Surround 5.1 (revived series)
Original release Original series:
28 January 2004 (2004-01-28) – 13 November 2009 (2009-11-13)
Revived series:
27 June 2011 (2011-06-27) – present (present)
Chronology
Related shows

Winx Club is an Italian-American 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. 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.

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." 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, premiered in 2021.

Premise

Winx Club main characters cast
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 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 fire-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. Roxy, the fairy of animals, occasionally joins the Winx and all three of the show's production companies name her as the Winx Club's seventh member. The main male characters are called the Specialists, a group of students at the Red Fountain school who are also the Winx fairies' boyfriends. 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. Some episodes take place on Earth, Roxy's home planet and where Bloom spent her childhood.

Production

Design

Winx Club Flora character table
A character table for Flora by art director Simone Borselli.

The series' visuals are a mixture of Japanese anime and European elements, which Iginio Straffi calls "the trademark Rainbow style". 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 an inspiration for Bloom, Cameron Diaz for Stella, Jennifer Lopez for Flora, Pink for Tecna, Lucy Liu for Musa, and Beyoncé for Aisha. This approach was part of Straffi's aim for the fairies to represent "the women of today."

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. 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. 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."

Writing and animation

The first stage in the production of an episode is developing its script, a process that can last 5–6 months. 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. The international coordination, which has continued through 2019, intends to make scenarios depicted in the program multicultural and accessible to viewers from different countries. 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. This episode structure was modelled on those of teen dramas and American comics. Themes written into the series include romance, the acquisition of maturity upon reaching adulthood, and (in the fifth season) nature conservation.

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, which are used to assemble an animatic. At this stage, dialogue and music are added to determine the length of each scene. 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. Episodes are worked on concurrently because each requires around two years of work to complete.

At the beginning of the first season, the ten-person production team worked at Rainbow's original headquarters in Recanati. In 2006, Straffi opened a second studio in Rome for computer-animated projects. 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.

Cast

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

Nickelodeon stars Liz Gillies and Ariana Grande voiced Daphne (Bloom's sister) and Diaspro, respectively.

The 2011 specials introduced a new cast of Hollywood voice actors. Iginio Straffi himself helped to choose the voices of the main characters, and the actors recorded their lines at the Atlas Oceanic studio in Burbank, California. Molly Quinn voiced the lead role of Bloom, and at first, she tried out a cartoony voice for her character. Nickelodeon advised her to use her real voice instead, saying, "No, we want voices of real girls this time around."

For the 2011 cast, Viacom hired popular actors whose names were advertised on-air to attract American viewers; these stars included Ariana Grande as Diaspro, Elizabeth Gillies as Daphne, Keke Palmer as Aisha, Matt Shively as Sky, and Daniella Monet as Mitzi. 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.

Music

According to Iginio Straffi, music plays a crucial role in the series. Original pop songs in the "style of Britney Spears and Beyoncé" have been recorded in about 40 languages for the show. Frequent composers for the program include Michele Bettali, Stefano Carrara, Fabrizio Castania, and Maurizio D'Aniello. 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, and seventh seasons. Each song takes between five and twelve months to complete. Many of the show's tracks are performed by Italian singer Elisa Rosselli, who started recording songs for Winx in 2007. Rosselli continued to produce music for the show (usually in collaboration with D'Aniello or Peter Zizzo from Nickelodeon) until its seventh season.

Nickelodeon created a few live-action music videos for Winx Club that were performed by stars from other Nick shows. One featured Elizabeth Gillies from Victorious (who also voiced Bloom's sister, Daphne) singing "We Are Believix." This song was released as a stand-alone single on iTunes. Another music video featured Cymphonique Miller from How to Rock singing "Winx, You're Magic Now." Miller also did a live performance of her Winx song at Nickelodeon's upfront presentation in Las Vegas.

Episodes

List of Winx Club episodes

Broadcast

Winx Club first premiered on the Italian television channel Rai 2 on 28 January 2004. Reruns later aired on Rai Gulp, a sister channel to Rai 2 aimed at children, 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. 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. With the exception of Italy, the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons launched on Nickelodeon channels domestically and internationally.

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. The seventh season was jointly announced by Nickelodeon and Rainbow in April 2014 as part of their continuing partnership. In Asia, it premiered on Nickelodeon on 22 June 2015, 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. In 2019, after the Viacom-CBS merger announcement, Informa's Television Business International listed the show among the most important Viacom properties internationally. Third-party broadcasters that acquired the show included China's CCTV, Ireland's TG4, and 4Kids, the last of which aired the series in the United States until their broadcast agreement was permanently revoked by Rainbow in 2009. 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." 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.

Cultural impact

Winx Club (15647110136)
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 new collectibles were raffled off to fans. Nickelodeon made two exclusive dolls for the 2012 event (a silver Bloom and a gold Bloom) and two more for 2013 (Daphne in her nymph form and Bloom in her Harmonix form). In 2015, a four-day Winx Club fan gathering was held in Jesolo, where Nickelodeon installed a "Fan Wall" to display messages from worldwide fans. 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.

Federico Vercellino of Il Sole 24 Ore described the series as "a destructive and constructive phenomenon" that introduced viewers to feminist stories about rebellious female characters. 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.

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, 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. 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".

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. A four-minute video using stereoscopic technology showing the Winx in Marche's tourist destinations was animated for the Italian Pavilion. In 2015, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited Rainbow's studio and wrote that "the Winx are a beautiful story of Italian talent".

Lawsuit

In April 2004, The Walt Disney Company filed an unsuccessful copyright infringement lawsuit against Rainbow. The company accused Rainbow of copying the Winx Club concept from its W.I.T.C.H. comic book, which was published over a year after production on Winx Club began. 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. Rainbow won the case against Disney, and the judge declared there were no confusing similarities between the two. Straffi mentioned that the Winx Club pilot entered production by 2000, while the W.I.T.C.H. comic was not released until May 2001. On 2 August 2004, all of Disney's infringement claims were rejected by the Tribunale di Bologna's , which deemed them unfounded. The suit later became the subject of a commercial law seminar at the University of Macerata in 2009.

In 2005, Iginio Straffi was interviewed in IO Donna about the legal battle. He was asked how it felt "to be one of Disney's most hated people," and answered that he—as the founder of a small animation studio—was glad to have "defeated" a massive conglomerate. "I feel a certain pride in having annoyed such a giant. It's inspiring," he elaborated. 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."

Related media

Films

Winx
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 in Italy on 30 November 2007. Its television premiere was on 11 March 2012 on Nickelodeon in the United States. 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.

Magical Adventure

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

On February 19, 2013, Nickelodeon held a special screening of the movie at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Nickelodeon star Daniella Monet (who voiced Bloom's rival, Mitzi, on the show) and creator Iginio Straffi both attended the premiere.

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. The film, titled Winx Club: The Mystery of the Abyss, was released in Italy on 4 September 2014. It made its television premiere on Nickelodeon Germany on 8 August 2015. 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.

Spin-offs

PopPixie is a miniseries that ran for a single season over two months in 2011. It features chibi-inspired Pixie characters who were first introduced in the second season of Winx Club. After Nickelodeon became a co-developer of the main series, it was announced that PopPixie would air on Nickelodeon's global network of channels beginning in late 2011.

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" 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. 26 episodes over two seasons were produced.

Live-action adaptation

In 2018, a live-action adaptation aimed at young adults was announced. Filming began in September 2019, with Abigail Cowen starring as Bloom. The series made its world premiere on 22 January 2021, following a teaser released on 10 December 2020.

The writers of Fate: The Winx Saga were entirely new to the Winx franchise, and they were recruited from teen dramas like The Vampire Diaries. Early in production, Nickelodeon's American crew members from the cartoon (including Bloom's voice actress, Molly Quinn) met with the Fate production team and reviewed the pilot script. Rainbow's Joanne Lee also oversaw the show as an executive producer.

Other events

In September 2005, a live stage musical called "Winx Power Show" began touring in Italy. The musical later expanded to other European countries and the show's cast performed at the 2007 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in Milan. An ice show follow-up starring Carolina Kostner was launched in November 2008. In October 2012, Nickelodeon held a live event at the Odeon Cinema Covent Garden, complete with a "pink carpet" and previews of upcoming episodes.

Merchandise

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

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

An ongoing comic book serial has been published since the series' premiere. 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. In the United States, Viz Media translated a few of the first 88 issues and released them across nine graphic novel volumes. Other tie-in books unrelated to the comics have been produced, starting with character guides distributed by Giunti Editore. Nickelodeon's partner Random House has published English-language Winx Club books since 2012.

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. 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: Believix in You (2010), and Winx Club: Magical Fairy Party (2012). Magical Fairy Party was released as part of Nickelodeon's partnership with D3Publisher. A physical trading card game based on the franchise and produced by Upper Deck Entertainment was released in 2005.

Nickelodeon's website, Nick.com, created various Flash games based on the show. The Winx Club section on Nick.com became one of the most-visited pages on the site, with 1 million monthly visitors in mid-2013 and over 2.6 million gaming sessions.

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