Avengers star Elizabeth Olsen will headline a dramedy series developed by Facebook for its recently launched streaming service Facebook Watch. This marks an acceleration for Facebook as they continue ramping up their new service, which debuted only last August. Most of the content offered thus far has been of the short-form variety, with an emphasis on sports, human interest and dating/reality programs.
Though the roll-out of Facebook Watch content has been modest, the company expects to speed things up in coming months. Reportedly, Facebook has earmarked $1 billion to spend on original programming in 2018 (because Mark Zuckerberg never does anything half-way). Facebook uses a YouTube-like model for monetization, running mid-roll ads with a plan to also include pre-roll ads in the future.
As part of the Facebook Watch ramp-up, Deadline reports the service will develop a new original dramedy series starring Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook has given a straight-to-series order for the half-hour show, which will run for ten episodes. Showtime originally began developing the series, from a spec script by playwright Kit Steinkellner. The creative team includes showrunner Lizzy Weiss (Switched at Birth) and executive producer and director James Ponsoldt (Master of None). Big Beach, the studio behind Little Miss Sunshine, will produce through their TV division.
Details on the new series are scarce, however it's believed Elizabeth Olsen plays a grief-stricken widow reconnecting with people from her past. Coincidentally, fellow upstart streaming service YouTube Red also plans a series called Widow from the creators of Santa Clarita Diet. The Olsen-starring series' writer Kit Steinkellner's prior credits include the short-lived Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything.
Elizabeth Olsen will of course next appear as Scarlet Witch in the highly-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War. The new Avengers film, among many other things, will explore the on-going relationship between Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany's Vision. Olsen last year played an Instagrammer who becomes the object of Aubrey Plaza's sick obsession in the indie fave Ingrid Goes West. She also played opposite Avengers co-star Jeremy Renner in Taylor Sheridan's neo-Western Wind River.
More will surely be revealed concerning Olsen's new dramedy series for Facebook Watch in the coming months. With $1 billion to spend on original content, Facebook should be making plenty more announcements as 2018 progresses. Whether all that spending will help Facebook become a true competitor to established services like Netflix and Hulu remains to be seen. Obviously, they're coming from a long way back.