Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Manifest’ Making Deals With Cast & Writers As Series Gets Closer To Resurrection At Netflix

Encouraging news for Manifest fans — the missing plane drama is inching closer to a deal for a new home two months after its cancellation by NBC. I hear producing studio Warner Bros. TV is in the home stretch of complex negotiations with Netflix about a Season 4 order for the series, which has been topping the streamer’s viewership charts since June.

In anticipation of a pickup, WBTV has started negotiations with the cast and has been making “if-come” offers to writers — both writers who had worked on the show, created/executive produced by Jeff Rake, and new ones — for the Season 4, sources said. NBCUniversal, which made a spirited effort to get the show back on NBC or Peacock, is no longer in the running, I hear. Reps for WBTV, Netflix and NBCU declined comment.

This is a pretty improbable story because the pending Season 4 pickup would come after Manifest producer Warner Bros. TV had concluded its campaign to find a new network partner following the series’ cancellation by NBC. The studio made that call on June 21 after exhausting all options and following days of conversations with Netflix which ended in the streamer passing on the show after a deal between the two sides appeared out of reach.

Manifest stars Josh Dallas, Melissa Roxburgh, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur and Matt Long. The cast’s options expired back in June. The studio did not negotiate an extension during its original round of negotiations with Netflix and did not reach out to the actors when it first restarted conversations with the streamer and NBCU so the ongoing negotiations are a promising sign that the studio is confident about securing a new home for the series. The Manifest cast all have participated in the #SaveManifest campaign and have expressed their willingness to come back.

United by the #SaveManifest movement, fans have continued to rally behind the show, with creator/showrunner Jeff Rake telling them on Twitter to “keep the faith.” Earlier this week, he tweeted this update: “No news yet, folks. But I’m back in the place where it happens. And I’m ready.”

With the #SaveManifest campaign remaining strong, Manifest Season 1 and Season 2 viewership kept surging on Netflix in the U.S., leading to the stunning reversal, with both Netflix and NBC reaching about picking up the show. Manifest logged four consecutive finishes atop the Nielsen weekly streaming ratings and a record six-week streak of more than 1 billion minutes viewed.

There have been complicating factors that doomed the original negotiations with Netflix in June, most notably international distribution for the series. Netflix typically wants global rights for its originals, and Warner Bros TV already has sold Manifest internationally market by market. The streamer also would want worldwide rights to all existing seasons of a series it picks up; Netflix currently has U.S.-only rights to Seasons 1 and 2.

But Manifest has been too big of a hit in the U.S. for Netflix to not pursue it. Additionally, Warner Bros TV have a working template for successfully moving a canceled broadcast drama to the streamer and overcoming international distribution obstacles with Lucifer, so there is a path to make a deal for Manifest if both sides can reach an agreement.

A pickup would give fans answers after the cancellation by NBC made for a premature ending, leaving unanswered questions and unresolved Season 3 finale cliffhangers for the series, which had been conceived by Rake for a six-season run.


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