Marvel Studios' isn't just gunning to reach new creative (and, the studio hopes, box office) heights with its Shared Cinematic Universe installments in 2014 - political thriller/sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier and cosmic adventure Guardians of the Galaxy - but also on the small screen.
Last year, the comic book film production house announced a deal with Netflix, where the streaming entertainment service will premiere four original Marvel Studio TV series - Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist - before the shows' eponymous characters (being residents of Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, NY) are featured together in an Avengers-style team-up mini-series, with The Defenders.
Today Marvel, Netflix Inc., The Walt Disney Company and NY governor Andrew M. Cuomo formally announced that the upcoming series about the "flawed heroes of Hell's Kitchen" will be principally filmed on location in New York state. The official press release claims that the deal with result in the creation of thousands of jobs for local New Yorkers, while they collaborate with the filmmakers and heads of Marvel to produce some 60 one-hour episodes total, with 13 episodes reserved for each individual Hell's Kitchen superhero (plus upwards of 8 episodes devoted to the Defenders story arc).
Here is the official statement on the development, issued by Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine:
“We thank the Governor and the great state of New York for helping us create the ultimate backdrop to this epic series. Setting our production in New York City truly underscores the authenticity and excitement we plan to bring to The Defenders and their ‘flawed heroes of Hell’s Kitchen’ stories.”
First in line to head to work in Summer 2014 will be Daredevil, with Drew Goddard - a former writer/producer on the TV shows Alias and Lost and the co-writer/director of The Cabin in the Woods - having been recruited to serve as the head show-runner.
Following that, the next project on the agenda should be Jessica Jones, which is being overseen by Melissa Rosenberg - the screenwriter behind the five Twilight movies, as well as a former writer/producer on Dexter and developer on ABC's mob drama/thriller series Red Widow (among other TV shows). Luke Cage and Iron Fist are currently without show-runners (officially-speaking), but that will change in the foreseeable future.
These Hell's Kitchen-based comic book properties are not popular enough to warrant their own vehicles as part of the Marvel shared film-verse, by the studios' own admission. However, the greater creative freedom afforded by a home at Netflix ought to (fingers crossed) allow these series to have their own distinct flavor - as to better stand apart as unique forms of genre entertainment. If nothing else, the hope is that these series won't just feel like homogenized products/knockoffs, meant to emulate the model for success employed by Marvel Studios during its early days (sorry Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1.1).
Here is the full official press release for this new development:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, The Walt Disney Company, Marvel and Netflix Inc. today announced that Marvel’s landmark live-action television series, which will bring Marvel’s ‘flawed heroes of Hell’s Kitchen’ characters to Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, will principally film in New York State. Produced by Marvel Television, in association with ABC Television Studios, this groundbreaking series is Marvel’s most ambitious foray yet into live-action television storytelling and represents the largest film or television production project commitment in New York State history.
Filming is set to begin in the Summer 2014 and will create at least three thousand jobs in New York State including up to 400 full time jobs. The project will include nearly 60 one-hour episodes focused on the 4 Defenders characters: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
“New York is where the entertainment industry started, and this unprecedented commitment from Disney and Marvel is further evidence that we’re bringing it back bigger and better than ever before,” said Governor Cuomo. “And when the entertainment industry thrives, it fuels dozens of other industries and businesses. The competition for these projects is fierce and Disney could have chosen to film these shows anywhere, but they knew that shooting in New York means getting to work with the best in world. These shows bring New York’s superheroes home where they belong – along with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in new business.”
“Since 2008 Disney has directly contributed almost half a billion dollars to New York’s economy through television and film production, along with approximately 9,000 jobs for New Yorkers,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “The Governor’s policies make this great state a more affordable and attractive location, opening the door for even greater economic investment and job creation for New Yorkers. Our Marvel series for Netflix will inject millions directly into the local economy and create hundreds of new jobs.”
“We thank the Governor and the great state of New York for helping us create the ultimate backdrop to this epic series. Setting our production in New York City truly underscores the authenticity and excitement we plan to bring to The Defenders and their ‘flawed heroes of Hell’s Kitchen’ stories,” said Alan Fine, President, Marvel Entertainment.
Last November, Disney and Netflix announced an unprecedented deal for Marvel TV to bring multiple original series of live-action adventures of four of Marvel's most popular characters exclusively to the world's leading Internet TV Network beginning in 2015. This pioneering agreement calls for Marvel to develop four serialized programs totaling 52 one-hour episodes culminating in a four to eight episode mini-series programming event. Led by a series focused on "Daredevil," followed by "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist" and "Luke Cage," the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking viewers deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell's Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a mini-series event in which the Marvel characters from the first four series team up as "The Defenders," much like “The Avengers.”
This new original TV deal follows last year's landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm.
"The Defenders are classic New York characters; smart, resourceful and tough enough to always stand up for what's right," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. "We're delighted they're coming to life on their home turf thanks to Governor Cuomo and his team."
When Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, he made the attraction of the film and television production and post-production industries, and jobs and the economic impact they bring with them, a key part of his overall strategy to grow New York State’s economy. Since that time, he has signed into law several important changes to both programs to make New York more competitive in this global marketplace, and the results have been significant. Both programs enjoyed record-breaking years in 2013, bringing billions of dollars in new spending and thousands of jobs into the Empire State. The stability provided by multiyear funding has particularly encouraged the development of television series production work, like the new Marvel series, as well as long term investments in infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to the actual productions themselves.
During calendar year 2013, applications for 183 film productions were submitted that included 124 films, 33 television programs and 26 pilots. These projects will:
· Generate a direct spend of $2.11 billion in NYS;
· Collect a projected $477 million in credits; and
· Hire an estimated 128,165 actors and crew for the 183 projects submitted.
John Ford, President, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 52 said, “The men and women of the IATSE look forward to participating in this ground breaking endeavor. Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, the long term funding of the production incentives gives employers the comfort they need to invest in these new avenues of entertainment, which will provide thousands of new jobs with good wages and benefits.”
Thomas J. O'Donnell, President Teamsters Local 817 said, “Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 is thrilled that Marvel's newest television series will be filmed in New York. This long-term commitment is an incredible accomplishment that will bring not just jobs, but also stability to our members work and family lives.”
Casting and additional show-runner announcements for the various Marvel/Netflix shows will be arriving in the months ahead; as ever, we'll keep you updated.