Is A Hannibal Series Season 4 Resurrection Finally Happening?
Hannibal Closer to Revival as Amazon Cuts Major Deal to Acquire its Rights Holder MGM.
The two major entertainment powers announced their big move this week: storied and iconic MGM is to be acquired by giant player Amazon, whose PrimeVideo service just celebrated 10 years in a deal that appears to have been in the works for some time.
This led to immediate speculation on social media and elsewhere whether the award-winning Hannibal series, dubbed by various critics as “best series of the horror genre” and “one of the greatest TV series of all time” might be finally resurrected from the dead, along with its two main characters, who fell off a cliff at the end of Season 3 — literally leaving its fans with the agony of that cliffhanger on top of the long wait for a Season 4.
The Amazon-MGM deal is now considered all but legally done at an announced price of $8.45Billion that Amazon is laying out to acquire MGM, which has a deep IP catalog that will allow Amazon Studios to reap significant value. Amazon reportedly plans to create new versions of the existing material, developing projects with MGM staff.
Excited speculation began swirling on May 25 about the Hannibal series, with fans having previously debated what a move could mean between network studios and a streaming service over the past several years. This move signals one of the best chances the Hannibal series — canceled after Season 3 — now has to return with a Season 4 on a streaming service.
The show originally aired on NBC for 3 seasons, and back in 2015, Amazon passed on acquiring the show for Season 4. At the time, Bryan Fuller, the show's writer/runner was committed to completing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. That scheduling issue factored enormously into Amazon’s decision to pass on more Hannibal. Now that Bryan Fuller is done with that gig, and other commitments, are they about to change their mind?
The intelligent yet gory and aesthetically beautiful psychological crime-thriller was once talked about as possibly heading to Netflix for reprisal after Seasons 1–3 were acquired by the streaming service and began airing in June 2020. Hannibal is scheduled to move off of Netflix though, on June 4, and the service has made no noise as yet about acquiring the show for its studio, leaving the industry and fans to assume that Netflix is either too committed to its current productions, or more likely, had anticipated Amazon’s move to acquire MGM and the Hannibal rights, and was simply waiting for that to shake out.
Since Amazon currently offers many of the Hannibal-related shows and movies in its current catalog and is acquiring The Silence of the Lambs, too, along with MGM, it’s a good bet Amazon Studios is the perfect home for a new Season 4 of the Hannibal series. This consolidation of MGM and Amazon, and the volume of cash Amazon currently has at its disposal, reinforces the notion of a follow-up, something that writer and showrunner, Bryan Fuller, together with lead actors, Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, have been hoping to make happen since Season 3 ended. In fact, the rest of the cast has also expressed a wish to return as recently as July 2020 on a live Hannibal Reunion videocast. More than 5 years later, there’s plenty of interest in reviving this show. Certainly, there’s still interest from the many #Hannibal fandoms, aka #Fannibals and #HEU (Hannibal extended universe), growing multiple offshoots since the series began airing on NBC network TV in 2013.
Sony doesn’t have a streaming platform of its own and so has no reason to slow or stop the TV development and content deal that they have in place with Amazon that would allow Hannibal to be resurrected. Additionally, a large portion of content from the Hannibal film and television world can already be found in Amazon PrimeVideo’s catalog. The fact that Bryan Fuller, the writer and showrunner of Hannibal, along with Mikkelsen, Dancy, and previous producer Martha DeLaurentiis and the entire cast, have expressed being all-in on reprising their roles making this show a worthwhile bet for Amazon Studios. If anything changes as a result of the merger, it’s unlikely to be a showstopper, and more a matter of fine-tuning contracts. It would make no sense for DeLaurentiis, Amazon Studios, or Sony, who holds the licensing, not to continue forward with a deal.
While many had the impression in 2016 that Hannibal had been dropped by NBC because of viewer numbers, that’s not really an accurate picture. While viewership is a primary indicator for advertisers, other factors typically figure just as heavily into a network’s decision to keep or cancel a show. Finances likely affected NBC’s decision to cut Hannibal more than the viewer ratings’ tracking did, which is notoriously antiquated. Finances may have been limited — and here we’re not talking about the per-show cost, but rather the cost of the licensing rights for characters from the original written work. At the time Season 3 finished, the licensing rights were soon to expire, and would revert to Sony Viacom. The cost to keep the licensing by cutting a new deal certainly factored into the show being eliminated before Season 4. That in itself may be the primary hint that Hannibal could have a profitable comeback. Hannibal did have a sizeable following, with a large offshoot of “fandoms” which spawned conventions, art sites, fan fiction, and social media groups. Its base is now much larger since streaming on both Netflix and Amazon PrimeVideo. Judging from the more than 33,000 Hannibal-related entries on a popular location for fanfiction, Archive of Our Own, actors Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Dancy (Graham) could write a completely different network or streaming series with romantic overtones, and as long as they starred in it together, they’d have a large, ready-made following. Of course, the Hannibal fanbase has been waiting more than 6 years for the news that Fuller & De Laurentiis would bring the show back. Hannibal fans who are also fans of recently canceled-by-Fox series Prodigal Son are active in the campaign to save it, too, hoping the latter gets picked up by Amazon PrimeVideo, or by a newer streaming service that not only has funding but is building out its subscriber base, such as Apple TV.
One of the main speculations for a potential Season 4 order of Hannibal is the production location. If ordered by Amazon Studios, the main filming location could change. Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed in Toronto and part of Season 3 in Italy. However, Amazon Studios is located in Culver City, CA. Depending on whether Bryan Fuller writes a Clarice Starling-based entry as was originally planned for Season 4, it might easily be filmed in California. It remains to be seen whether Amazon Studios is ready to raise Hannibal for a continuation once the MGM acquisition is completed later this year.
Fans can hold hope in the likelihood of a continuation by gauging Hollywood’s general opinion of Hannibal’s worth in the MGM buyout by Amazon, which can often be found in what it says indirectly — or not at all — looming like a pink elephant in the middle of articles by pointing to the Hannibal franchise as being second in importance only to the James Bond franchise. That’s significant since Bond franchise rights are held 50% in tandem by MGM with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. (Information courtesy of Variety and other sources).
De Laurentiis Co. holds tandem rights to Hannibal with MGM and has been clear that like Fuller and Mikkelsen, Martha De Laurentiis, the company owner — and a former executive producer with Fuller — also wants to see Hannibal revived.
Neither Amazon nor MGM has speculated on exactly when they expect this deal to close, but as with all such deals, it is subject to regulatory approval before they can move forward. The integration is likely to complete by end of the year after approval is received, though Variety noted this week that the latest Bond film No Time to Die will still release October 8, as planned, and that this is likely to happen before the merger itself completes. Anxious as the fanbase is to hear some good news about a Hannibal resurrection, they’ll need to be patient a little longer.
B. Roxy Rogers is a journalist, fiction author, TEFL educator, and digital nomad.
Her latest writing projects are STRANGER THAN FICTION: A biopic of Brian Howe’s era with Bad Company (nonfiction) and REDEEMING ROCHEFORT (fiction) an alternate-history/paranormal/fantasy romance. Both books are forthcoming from Green Lady Publishing. When not writing or quarantining, her passions are focused on Europe, 80s EBM/industrial music, arthouse films, and dance.