Amazon has given an eight-episode straight-to-series order to fantasy drama Carnival Row, from Rene Echevarria (Star Trek), Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim) and Legendary Television. Joining them is director-producer Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein).
Carnival Row is a fantasy-noir set in a neo-Victorian city. Mythical creatures fleeing their war-torn homeland have gathered in the city, and tensions are simmering between citizens and the growing immigrant population. The series follows the investigation of a string of unsolved murders that are eating away at whatever uneasy peace still exists.
Carnival Row, whose themes about immigration and anti-immigrant sentiments are pretty timely, stems from a major development deal Amazon Studios inked in early 2015 for the project, a TV series version of Beacham’s cult 12-year-old supernatural feature spec script A Killing on Carnival Row. At the time, Echevarria was working with the Pacific Rim duo of Beacham and Guillermo Del Toro, whose feature schedule did not permit for him to stay on as an executive producer as the project moved forward.
A year ago, Amazon ordered a pilot for Carnival Row based on a script written by Echevarria. Given the project’s scope, the streaming platform opted for a straight-to-series order instead, which is also how AMC’s The Walking Dead started.
Echevarria is writer, executive producer and showrunner, McGuigan is set to direct and executive produce, and Beacham, who will serve as executive producer, wrote the original feature script, which appeared on the first installment of the Hollywood Black List in 2005. Del Toro and Neil Jordan flirted with the project while it was at New Line and then, following New Line’s absorption by Warner Bros., Arnold and Anne Kopelson tried shopping it to studios with Immortals helmer Tarsem Singh attached.
“There has never been a series like Carnival Row before,” said Joe Lewis, Head of Comedy, Drama and VR at Amazon Studios. “The scope of the storytelling combined with the uniqueness of the world, themes and aesthetics haven’t been on TV before. A simple police investigation will lead us down a remarkable journey in a world where humans and creatures co-exist.”
The series is scheduled to begin filming in the fall 2018 for a 2019 premiere.
“Carnival Row is inspiringly ambitious and timely in a way that we never could have anticipated,” said Lauren Whitney, President of Scripted Television at Legendary. “We are thrilled to have excellent partners at Amazon, and the infinitely talented trio of Echevarria, McGuigan and Beacham as the driving force behind this show.”
Legendary has another genre series, The Colony, at USA.
Echevarria, a Star Trek veteran, most recently was an executive producer on Teen Wolf and was an EP on Terra Nova before that. He also co-created the critically acclaimed USA series The 4400.