Fox has given a pilot order to Behind Enemy Lines, a drama loosely based on the movie franchise of the same name. The project hails from writer Nikki Toscano (Bates Motel), 20th Century Fox TV, whose feature sibling was behind the movie, studio-based Temple Hill as well as Davis Entertainment, which produced the feature.
McG has come on board to direct the pilot under his overall deal at 20th TV. Fox has been looking to pick up pilots with directors already locked in.
There is a clear post-election shift toward more patriotic fare spotlighting America’s heroes in the military. Following the breakout success in the months since the November vote of new USA drama Shooter, about a heroic former Marine, and History’s Navy SEALs series Six, the broadcast network have been looking to tap into themes that appeal to blue-collar, everyday Americans.
Fox calls Behind Enemy Lines a “distinctly patriotic series.” It is a military soap thriller wherein a group of U.S. soldiers find themselves trapped behind enemy lines. The multi-perspective narrative “closely follows our soldiers on the ground, and the officers and service men and women on a nearby aircraft carrier, along with intelligence officers in DC as they attempt to bring our heroes home safely and under the radar.”
Behind Enemy Lines joins NBC’s similarly-themed drama pilot For God and Country, whose official description is “a look into the complex world of our bravest military heroes who make personal sacrifices while executing the most challenging and dangerous missions behind enemy lines.” And earlier today, CBS picked up an untitled SEAL drama that “follows the lives of the elite Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask.”
Fox has been high on mounting a Behind Enemy Lines series for awhile. It first commissioned a script from a different writer last season with a put pilot commitment. While that script did not go to pilot, the network kept the concept for redevelopment, with Toscano coming on board to write a new script.
For Toscano, the project stems from the overall deal she signed with 20th TV last May. She is executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis, who was the movie’s producers, and John Fox; as well as Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey, who was an executive producer on the film, and Marty Bowen.
Loosely based on a real story, the 2001 feature starred Owen Wilson as an American naval flight officer shot down over Bosnia and Gene Hackman as his commanding officer trying to get a rescue mission underway (watch the theatrical trailer below). The movie was a solid box office performer, grossing $92 million worldwide on a modest budget. It spawned three direct-to-video sequels.
Behind Enemy Lines falls outside of Davis Entertainment’s deal at Sony TV that has yielded four series: NBC’s The Blacklist, spinoff The Blacklist: Redemption and Timeless; as well as Dr. Ken on ABC. This is David Entertainment’s second pilot order so far this season, joining comedy Start Up at ABC, starring and directed by Zach Braff.
Under the two-year overall deal with 20th TV, Toscano serves as co-executive producer on the studio’s 24 reboot, 24: Legacy. This is her second pilot order following the 2014 CBS drama Red Zone.
This is the second movie reboot to get a pilot order this season, joining What About Barb?, a female take on Frank Oz’s What About Bob?, at NBC.