Encore is throwing its hat into the original cable programming ring in a big way, with a pair of high-profile miniseries planned for broadcast next year. William Hurt will captain the Pequod in Moby Dick, while Nolan favorite Tom Hardy stars in The Take.
The former is the latest in a long line of adaptations of Herman Melville’s symbolist classic. Hurt (Robin Hood, The Incredible Hulk) will take the helm as the famous Captain Ahab, but he’ll hardly be alone: Ethan Hawke (Gattaca and the upcoming Total Recall remake) will play first mate Starbuck while Raoul Trujillo plays the enigmatic harpooner Queequeg. Gillian Anderson of The X Files and Donald Sutherland (yes, that Donald Sutherland) also star.
The $25 million, two-part, miniseries wrapped up production last year, but had yet to find a US broadcaster before this week. Moby Dick will premiere on the movie channel on August 1st.
Later in the fall, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy will headline The Take, a four-part series based on a crime thriller novel by Martina Cole. Joining Hardy are British actors Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy), Charlotte Riley, Kierston Wareing (The BBC’s Luther), and Shaun Evan. The series aired across the pond two years ago.
Encore will follow-up the pair of imported originals with a Jerry Lewis documentary and more premieres down the line. The cable channel is owned by the parent company of Starz (who have their own original aspirations) and intends to air at least one major television event per quarter from here on out.
Making a name for themselves beyond the replay-heavy movie channel they’ve been up to now won’t be easy. With HBO and Showtime continuing hard-to-beat lineups and newer original players like AMC and FX pushing from basic, the cable programming world is a lot tighter than it was just a few years ago. But since Encore is licensing existing productions instead of creating their own, a la Spartacus or Camelot, they don’t need monster numbers to see a return on their investment.
Moby Dick will air on Encore Monday, August 1st at 8PM. The Take will air at an undetermined date this fall.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider