Laughing Dragon Studios Digs Out Christmas Special Series ‘Coal’

EXCLUSIVE: Laughing Dragon Studios recently grabbed a skateboard for a Tony Hawk toon, and now the Canadian production house has switched focus to the festive season.

The company has unveiled Christmas series Coal, which is due to drop in December 2025. Shaftesbury is signed up for international distribution, with Muse Distribution handling Quebec. The Shaw Rocket Fund and Telefilm have provided funding.

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The three-part special will follow Ethan Bishop, an eight-year-old boy navigating a difficult time in his life that lands him on Santa’s naughty list. In response, Santa implements ‘Plan C,’ sending a legendary Lump of Coal to guide Ethan on a “ho-ho-hilarious journey.” Through a series of positive and negative experiences with the coal, Ethan discovers a life-altering artistic talent.

Cast includes Lucinda Davis (Radio Active, Winx Club) as Ethan alongside Zariah Ellis (Blue’s Clues & You), Briauna James (Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace, The Bold Type), Ralph Prosper (Assassin’s Creed, District 31), Mara Lazaris (LARPs, 1991), Eric Davis (RED 2, Mother!) and Bruce Dinsmore (Arthur, The Secret World of Santa Claus) as Santa Claus.

Laughing Dragon is billing it as a “playful 2D animated series, complete with specialized magical charcoal-style sequences” for kids aged 6-10, and is planning it as an “festive tradition that can be cherished year after year.”

Guillaume Chassé (Curious George, F Is for Family) is directing and René Veilleux from Vérité Entertainment oversaw the voice direction and casting. Astride Noel (Lyla in the Loop, Cocomelon Story Time) and Christopher Bernard (Lego Friends: The Next Chapter, Luna) are the writers. Laughing Dragon CEO Ryan Sohmer (Kabu, Disenchanted) is the executive producer.

“With an initial concept from our very own Ryan Costello and seeing what our Director of Original Productions Jeff Moss has molded Coal into over the last few years, I am thrilled to begin this next stage of production, and counting down until we can bring Ethan and his family to worldwide audiences,” said Sohmer.

Writer Noel added: “It was a blast working on Coal, and I immediately fell in love with the dilemma of this holiday film that takes traditional Santa lore and spins it on its head. ‘Finding who is naughty and nice’ is not always as easy as the song makes it seem. The story serves as a wonderful reminder that even in difficult times, there is joy, beauty, and… nice to be found.”

Earlier this year, we reported that Laughing Dragon was working with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk on animated series Skatebirds, as part of the Montreal-based company’s push into original production. Initially beginning as a full-service 2D animation studio, Laughing Dragon has worked on projects such as Apple TV+’s Central Park and Disney’s Disenchanted, and is developing an internal slate also including madcap mythologic title Isaac & Friends and an animated adaptation of Least I Could Do, a webcomic created by Sohmer and Lar deSouza.

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