It’s time for the networks to clean house, and aside from the overnight announcement of SYFY canceling The Expanse, Fox made their announcements, giving the axe to both The Exorcist and Lucifer. And the cast and crew of Lucifer are not happy, taking to social media…
It’s about time…several years after 2014’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey starring chief science nerd Neil deGrasse Tyson and produced by Seth MacFarlane, itself a sequel of 1980’s seminal science series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan, will get its own sequel.
Cosmos: Possible Worlds – the title of which is perhaps a nod to the theme of this series – has been ordered from Fox and National Geographic, with a planned Spring 2019 release. The same creative team will be back as well; MacFarlane will be joined by executive producers Brannon Braga and Jason Clark, as well as executive producer, writer and director Ann Druyan who won an Emmy for writing the 2014 series. Tyson will return as host. The 2014 series was watched by 135 million people worldwide and was the most watched series on National Geographic’s international channels.
Also, this time the series will receive a companion book, much like Sagan’s original series did.
Fox and National Geographic will remain partners for the series despite the impending sale of National Geographic Channel to Disney as part of the giant acquisition.
You may have heard about this tiny little deal in the entertainment world…Disney has agreed to purchase assets from 21st Century Fox, including Fox Studios, in a deal worth over $54 billion! Disney gets all of the film and television assets except the broadcast network (they already own ABC), sports and news divisions, which will be retained by Fox. Although this doesn’t include the broadcast network, it seems to leave the network without a TV production studio as a sibling, which the other major networks have.
Disney will also get the rights to all the upcoming Avatar movies, which isn’t surprising since the Mouse House has already incorporated the franchise into its Animal Kingdom theme park.
But one of the biggest ramifications everyone has been talking about is what it means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fox has owned the rights to the X-Men for some time, which as a result has left the X-Men out of the MCU, even for cameos. In fact, we ended up with two different versions of Quicksilver. In fact, both Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch where at the center of a battle between the two studios – Fox claimed they were part of the X-Men universe, while Disney wanted to use them in the Avengers. The studios came to an agreement to allow both to use the characters, so long as neither mentioned the other in either way. Fox never used Scarlet Witch, but Quicksilver first appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and then in his MCU version in Avengers: Age of Ultron alongside Scarlet Witch.
Now with the acquisition, that line gets blurred and the X-Men could easily be included in the MCU going forward, if so desired. In fact, Hugh Jackman, who said he was retiring from playing Wolverine after Logan, left the door open if he could appear in an Avengers movie. So maybe Wolverine isn’t quite done yet.
Another Marvel rights property related to the acquisition is the Fantastic Four, but the rights issues are a little murkier. Fox did not own them outright but rather were in a partnership with the original optioner, Constantin Films. The rights and productions have an interesting history on its own, but rather than regurgitate it here Screen Rant has an excellent write-up. So the status of that property is perhaps less clear, although Disney mentioned them in their press release:
Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s critically acclaimed film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, which together offer diverse and compelling storytelling businesses and are the homes of Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, as well as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hidden Figures, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water and The Martian—and its storied television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21, which have brought The Americans, This Is Us, Modern Family, The Simpsons and so many more hit TV series to viewers across the globe. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.
So Disney at least believes they are back in the fold.
Oh, and what of Deadpool, the R-rated superhero? Disney isn’t known for going after the R-rated audience, but Deadpool broke all the rules and was a massive success. Well, Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioned that specifically while addressing shareholders: “[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”
So there you have it. It might be a while before we see the rewards on screen, but I think I can hear the gears of MCU master Kevin Feige’s brain turning now…
The Orville, which harkens back to mid-80s Star Trek with more humor, has scored well with viewers and also with the network brass – Fox has ordered a second season of the Seth MacFarlane show while just halfway through its freshman 13-episode season. After a post-NFL premiere of 8.6 million viewers in the Live+Same Day ratings, it moved into a regular Thursday and although there was an expected drop, it’s still holding on to more than 4 million viewers a week, and when including Live+7 it jumps another 67%.
It’s pilot happy season, and there have been some casting announcements:
Syfy has added Patrick Fischler (Lost, Once Upon A Time), Zabryna Guevara (Gotham, The Get Down) and Ritchie Coster (The Dark Knight, Blackhat) to the pilot for Happy!, based on the graphic novel from Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson. The show follows Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: SVU), an intoxicated, corrupt ex-cop turned hit man, who is adrift in a world of casual murder, soulless sex and betrayal. After a hit gone wrong, his inebriated life is forever changed by a tiny, relentlessly positive, imaginary blue winged horse.
Fischler will play Smoothie, a well-dressed mob enforcer and sardonic soulless torturer who claims to take a ‘New Age’ approach to his work.
Guevara is playing Amanda Hansen, a single mom facing every mother’s worst nightmare; the disappearance of her young daughter.
Coster is Mr. Blue/Leonardo Scaramucci, the lead villain whose wealth and status as a legitimate businessman in the wine import trade support an increasingly profitable and highly illegal sideline.
In another Marvel pilot, but for Fox, one of our favorites, Amy Acker, fresh off the final season of Person of Interest, will star in the unnamed X-Men-based show written by Matt Nix (Burn Notice) and directed by Bryan Singer. The show focuses on a family of human parents with mutant children, on the run from a mutant-hostile government. Acker will play mother Kate, who is struggling to deal with her separation from her husband Reed (Stephen Moyer, True Blood) and her increasingly challenging teenage children.
Fans of writer Larry Niven have been waiting eons for adaptations of his works, most notably Ringworld, but we’ve had our hopes raised before. So far, the only works of his that have been adapted have been “The Slaver Weapon”, adapted into an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series (as “The Soft Weapon”), and a 1996 episode of The Outer Limits based on “The Inconstant Moon”.
Well, now it appears the latter might get a new adaptation, but this time a bigger one – a full feature film. Fox 2000 has started development on the film in conjunction with Arrival‘s Shawn Levy and his production company 21 Laps. Director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) is attached, with Daniel Casey writing the script. 21 Laps Dan Cohen, Ponsoldt and Created By’s Vince Gerardis will also produce.
“The Inconstant Moon” starts with an apparent brightening of the Moon being observed on Earth. Most simply commented on it being pretty, but the narrator of the story has a dreadful explanation – that while the Sun was shining on the other side of the Earth, it went nova, and the planet has mere hours before it is destroyed.
Hopefully this will give more exposure to Niven’s works, and we can get some Known Space stories soon!
It’s pilot season, and Fox is stacking its superhero deck…the network has ordered with a put commitment an unnamed pilot from 20th TV and Marvel TV for an X-Men-based series that will run in the same universe as sister channel FX’s Legion, which premieres next month. Franchise leader Bryan Singer will executive produce, while Burn Notice‘s Matt Nix will write the script.
The show will follow a family of human parents with mutant children, on the run from a mutant-hostile government. Casting is expected to take place quickly with the pilot order.
Fox already has a Marvel/X-Men-based TV series in production for it’s FX cable network in the form of Legion, but they aren’t standing pat, with comic book series starting to take over the airwaves of broadcast nets…Fox has ordered up a put pilot for another show, untitled at the moment, that will focus on two ordinary parents who discover their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.
The same production team for Legion and the X-Men franchise of Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, and Simon Kinberg will executive produce, along with the Daredevil/Jessica Jones team of Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory. Matt Nix (Burn Notice) is the writer/creator and will also executive produce.
OK, now I’ve got to get caught up on Lucifer, seeing as how my bowling adversary Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Ascension) is joining the show as a recurring character for Season 2. Based on the comic book spinoff from The Sandman, the show blends fantasy and police procedural drama where the Lord of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), resigns his throne and heads to LA, where he helps the police punish criminals, partnering with Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German).
Helfer will play Charlotte, who it turns out is the Queen of Angels, but has been trapped in Hell for thousands of years thanks to he ex-husband, God. She’s now free on Earth, and all she says she wants is to be with her sons again. But there may be more to it…
Deadpool shouldn’t be the successful film it is.
Sure, it’s a superhero movie and that’s all the rage. And it’s a Marvel movie at that. And it exists within the X-Men universe (which one isn’t clear, even to the protagonist) and features a couple of them.
But it’s R-rated, with lots of violence, nudity and sexual references, it parodies the genre and itself, makes fun of the star, breaks the fourth wall, it opened mid-winter, the studio cut the budget, it stars the guy who previously played Green Lantern…the list goes on. At best, it could make a moderately-successful movie off of a “puny” (for superhero movies) budget of $58 million. Some of the most generous estimates saw maybe $80 million.
Then WHY is it approaching $250 million this weekend?!? Because it’s a frakkin’ good movie.
From the get go the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead of naming the actors, director, etc. in the opening credits, it does so descriptively; Ryan Reynolds as “God’s perfect idiot”, Morena Bacarrin as “a hot chick”, the producers as “asshats” and the director as an “overpaid idiot” and the writers as the “true heroes of the movie”. This, while Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” is playing, during a slow motion continue shot of what appears to be massive carnage.
The vulgar references are not only keeping with the character, but help keep the focus of the movie light despite the violence. And even the violence is handled with levity.
Deadpool may have shown the studios the true power of social media as well, as even Reynolds campaigned for and championed this movie heavily, while Fox seemed willing to throw it away. Could it have been done PG-13? Sure. But it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.
Deadpool is laugh out loud funny – and it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud. Go see it…but please, leave the 10 year olds at home.