With original SVOD content all the rage, it seems the playing field has mostly been dominated by the ever dueling powers of Netflix and Amazon. However, after spending years as SVOD’s punching-bag, it appears Hulu is finally ready to step into the ring via its new event series, 11/22/63.
Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, one of the biggest unknowns thus far about the project was the identity of its leading man. However, that question has now been answered, as today Hulu announced that James Franco will be leading the nine part event slated for debut sometime in the 2015/2016 season.
A thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, his falling in love and the past itself … which doesn’t want to be changed.
Up until now, Hulu hasn’t really had a series that’s put it on the map. Sure, it’s had exclusives like Kevin Smith’s Spoilers and the Tyler Labine starring Deadbeat (which was picked up for a second season in April of last year), but neither was every much of a reason for people to actually subscribe the service. In addition, there’s really a lack of incentive to do so when all of the site’s programming can be watched for free on PCs. All paying a subscription gives viewers is the ability to watch Hulu’s programming on a television screen or phone via various apps (while also providing access to some programming sooner than the free counter-parts).
Where 11/22/63 could break Hulu’s trend is in its presentation. A show starring James Franco, produced by J.J. Abrams, and adapted from one of the most well reviewed Stephen King novels in years - that's something that screams, “Watch me on the biggest screen possible!”. It could be the series that finally lands Hulu some much-needed good will. It’s the kind of project that creates buzz and raises awareness and value of a service - things Hulu is in desperate need of at the moment.
In addition to starring, Franco will also serve as a producer on the project, though it’s unknown if that will be in name only. We know Franco likes to maintain control over his career when possible, but he’s also a guy that knows when to back-off as is necessary.
Stay tuned for more on 11/22/63 as it develops.