Almost from the moment the cancellation of Hannibal by NBC was made public on Monday, a campaign has been stridently waged to find the ratings-challenged show a new home. Out front in that campaign, both online and in the press, has been showrunner Bryan Fuller – who has seen other shows he’s created like Fox’s Wonderfalls and ABC’s Pushing Daisies have their plug pulled. Amazon’s exclusive arrangement to stream the previous two seasons and the current cycle of the alluring cannibal series based on Thomas Harris’ novels, makes the rapidly swelling service seem like a good table for a saved Hannibal to sit at – if a deal can be cooked up. With 10-episodes left in Season 3 and a return to Comic-Con coming in two weeks, Fuller discussed what could happen to Hannibal, how that relates to his new American Gods show, potential mini-movies and if it’s really over.
DEADLINE: How realistic is it that Hannibal can be resurrected?
FULLER: Honestly, I’m not sure. I would say 50/50. Because I’ve been down this road before and there’s that brief wave of “Oh it could be possible” and then it just doesn’t happen. But it feels like the way this particular show is set up there is potential for a deal to be done. I know conversations are being had. It’s just a matter if they can come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial to the studio and the distributor.
DEADLINE: Gaumont have a deal already in place for past seasons with Amazon, so is there any way, besides dropping a buffet of dough, that Netflix could be the new home of Hannibal?
FULLER: Not really. Netflix has been great in expressing their enthusiasm for the show but it’s just not feasible for them to pick it up. The deal with Amazon, I believe, precludes other streaming services. So that wouldn’t give Netflix what they need as a distributor in terms of first rights, etc.
DEADLINE: Even before the cancellation last week, it seemed that, with the adaptation of American Gods coming up on Starz and you co-showrunning that, you would be taking a step back from the day-to-day on Hannibal in Season 4 anyway. Was that the case?
FULLER: Yes and no. Now, the question would be for the potential new distribution partner is how comfortable they are in waiting. Because I do have an obligation to American Gods and a passion for American Gods, so I absolutely want to service that in the way that it needs to be serviced. And I’m partnered with my friend Michael Green on that and we have been very excited about the opportunity to work with each other again (they were co-EPs on Heroes together) so that’s not something I want to miss out on. So then it becomes a question of can we stagger schedules so I can feasibly do both? That will be part of the discussion if there is a new partner to be had for Hannibal – how to accommodate my dedication to American Gods.
DEADLINE: It sounds like there are maybe too many obstacles to be overcome or can all mountains be moved if enough people are willing to put their shoulders to it?
FULLER: Absolutely all mountains can be moved if enough people are willing to put their shoulders to it – with the caveat of if they want to. The arc for a Season 4 of Hannibal is hinging on the finale to Season 3, which like the previous seasons finales, serves as a season end and a possible series finale.
DEADLINE: That’s been how you constructed the show from the very being, the idea that the end really could be the end?
FULLER: Absolutely, two or three times burned, I’m going to be careful going into future series on network television.
DEADLINE: So is there a silver lining in this campaigning in public that could see Hannibal return to the big screen?
FULLER: Obviously there is something appealing about seeing a full circle back to the big screen with this cast. So I can’t deny that that would be the most awesome of results from this cancellation on NBC. At least for me, because it feels like a big-screen show in the way we produce it and the way it is formalistically designed. And having someone like David Slade direct a Hannibal film with Mads Mikkelson and Hugh Dancy is incredibly exciting. But also in order to do that I would have to condense a lot of story so once again with the Hannibal mythos, as we’ve been exploring, a little bit more real estate gives us the opportunity to be a little bit more funky in our narrative.
DEADLINE: With Hannibal feeling so often like a cable series that ended up on broadcast TV, a streaming service could offer some very funky, to use your word, opportunities to reach further towards being a big-screen show.
FULLER: I do think that there is great benefit for Hannibal to be on a streaming service in terms of the enthusiasm of the fanbase and the accessibility that streaming services offer. It would open up an immediacy to the show in a way that we haven’t had before. But I love the idea of serving out to an audience course by course. So even if it ends up on a streaming service it might be interesting to break it down in a way that redefines streaming services.
DEADLINE: Like how?
FULLER: Well, like courses. So you get one or two episodes and then a break. Then two or three more episodes and a break and then another two or three more episodes and another break. Something like that could shift the story into a broader act.
DEADLINE: Like mini-movies?
FULLER: Almost like a mini-movie trilogy. That could be exciting as well. There’s an opportunity in whatever format we could end up on to look at adapting the story telling of this series to accommodate that service in a new way.
DEADLINE: Your American Gods schedule isn’t going to be light, so when could we expect to see a Season 4 of Hannibal even begin if someone picks it up?
FULLER: I don’t know, so many things have got to be figured out to make that possible. It’s impossible to tell right now.
DEADLINE: Then is it maybe just to time to say “thanks for the ride” and go gently into the night?
FULLER: That’s distinctly a possibility as well. I’m in this wonderful position of being able to say I’m really proud of the past seasons and especially the next 10 episodes of this season of the show, which get really crazy. And the final 4 episodes of the Italy arc are wonderfully perverse and shocking in terms of what we’ve pulled off on the show so far. I’m excited for what’s to come and to see how people react to some of the crazy shit that is coming their way.
So, to go back a bit, absolutely there’s a version of me that would be comfortable with it being the final season. It’s ready to be over if it needs to be. If the stars align and we’re able to find a new home for Hannibal and work around my schedule with American Gods, then that would be amazing as well. I would never want to disappoint the Fannibals and I always want to give them as much of the show as possible. But I also “surrender to destiny,” to quote Jaye Tyler from Wonderfalls.