TV Pilot Season 2015: Networks Hedge Bets With Pre-Sold Titles Hoping Audiences Remember Them Fondly And Tune In


Santa Monica, CA — Network and Studio executives in Hollywood regularly peruse their own corporate-owned libraries for Titles to old movies and series that can be re-jiggered for a new audience.

I have sat at desk scouring through a thick binder of Library Titles both at 20th Century Fox and at NBC/Universal for ideas.  This is one reason why Studios value their Libraries so much.  Content never dies or loses its value.  Some properties remain Evergreen.

This pilot season, Pre-Sold Titles are being developed across the board.  NBC and Fox dominate, however, since they have studio libraries to raid at will.

Networks consider these titles with built-in name recognition to be safer bets in today’s risky marketplace.  Patience is no longer a virtue.  New shows don’t have time to find an audience, so it’s no surprise to see series developed around Titles that already have had an audience.  Hopefully, they are remembered fondly.


Sometimes, it works.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  ABC is struggling to keep the Avengers-inspired Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. afloat, but hey, Marvel is a huge Disney investment. Disney owns ABC so, don’t expect this improving series to go anywhere until 65 episodes are reached.  Low-rated seat-filler but critically praised Agent Carter has helped reach that number faster.  One more season will be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s  last, I predict.

Last year, NBC revived (pun intended!) that evergreen Universal title, Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.  Predictably, it failed, however, NBC didn’t have to spend millions explaining what the show was about. Dracula pre-sells, er, him/it-self.

As VP/Development at SyFy, I plucked Battlestar Galactica from NBC/Universal’s catalogue, and we all know what resulted:  Hit.  For BSG, there was audience that couldn’t wait to see it, and those fans drove the series to Cult Favorite Status.



Meanwhile, these are the Pre-Sold Titles being developed, re-made, and re-jiggered this pilot season:

  • Uncle Buck at ABC could be very interesting as the network is re-freshing this property by going Black-ish in casting.  Another win for Diversity this pilot Season.  Smart move.
  • Rush Hour at CBS is being re-invented for the small screen by veteran writer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town).
  • Limitless at CBS has power-hitters Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Star Trek re-boots) at the helm.  Marc Webb directs.
  • Big at Fox seems to be on the back burner for now.  That’s a title the network will pursue at some point, though.
  • Hitch at Fox is on the burner in the back next to Big.
  • Minority Report at Fox takes place 10 years later and those darn Pre-Cogs are having a difficult time fitting into Society.  Amblin (i.e., Spielberg) produces.
  • Frankenstein at Fox is a re-working wherein a morally corrupt ex-cop is brought back from the dead.  Homeland cool dude Howard Gordon produces.
  • Beowulf at ITV has a 13-episode commitment for that eternal story about a warrior and his BFF, Grendel.
  • Jekyll & Hyde at ITV has a 10-episode order for a new version featuring the grandson of Dr. Jekyll (Tom Bateman from Da Vinci’s Demons) in 1930s London.
  • X-Men at Fox won’t happen this season as the network has still to hammer out a deal with Marvel to bring Xavier’s School for the Gifted to the small screen, but it’s on the books and in the mix.  Evan Katz and Manny Coto are signed to produce the small screen version of Fox’s lone Marvel property.
  • Jekyll & Hyde at ITV is high on my list of Pilots-To-See as it stars up-and-coming actor Tom Bateman who’s been on my radar since Season One of Da Vinci’s Demons and more recently, on stage in London in the adaptation of Shakespeare in Love.  Ten episodes have been ordered for this story set in 1930s London.
  • The Omen at Lifetime is a prequel that the network is calling Damien.  Story follows Damien Thorn as an adult coming to grips that he’s the Anti-Christ.
  • Marley & Me at NBC is a total yawn.  Seems to be back-burner for now.
  • Problem Child at NBC is a half-hour single camera comedy version of the 1999 John Ritter feature about parenting a you-know-what.
  • Daredevil at Netflix has a 13-episode order and is the first of Marvel’s output deal with Netflix for four series which also includes AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.  Charlie Cox takes over for Ben Affleck in this re-make that also stars Vincent D’Onofrio and Rosario Dawson.  Premieres April 10th.  Can’t wait!  Prediction:  Hit.
  • Ash vs Evil Dead at Starz already has a 10-episode order for a half-hour series with franchise star Bruce Campbell reuniting with creator Sam Raimi.

Coming up soon:  The Re-Boots!

(Heads Up, fans of The X-Files!)  X FILES


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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