With its gigantic promotional platform, Comic-Con has become the place for TV studios and networks to introduce their new genre series to fans through screenings of their pilots and panels with creators and cast. But showcasing pilots that didn’t go to series is extremely rare. It will happen this year with Fox’s Locke & Key, a suspense thriller based on the graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. A Locke & Key session will be held July 22 at 10:30 AM and will include a screening of the pilot, followed by a panel discussion featuring Hill, Rodriguez, the pilot’s writer/executive producer Josh Friedman and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Behind the event is the publisher of the Locke & Key comic, IDW Publishing. IDW asked the pilot’s producer, 20th Century Fox TV, for permission, and with the studio’s blessing, it moved to book space for the screening. Because the convention is so packed, there was some juggling involved, so the screening will be in Room 8, and the panel next door in Room 9. “This one-time-only screening of the entire pilot will show you just what a void there will be on your TVs this fall,” IDW’s ad materials say.
Locke & Key, directed by Mark Romanek and starring Miranda Otto and Nick Stahl, was one of the highest-profile pilots this past season. It was given an early pilot order and originally envisioned as a summer series before it was switched to fall consideration. Despite its great pedigree and top auspices involved, the pilot didn’t make the cut at Fox, and, after shopping the show to cable networks, the studio, faced with mounting costs of keeping the production alive, decided to pull the plug while signing Friedman in an overall deal. With rare exceptions (the failed Aquaman pilot was made available on iTunes), all pilots that don’t go to series die a quiet death and are rarely shown to the general public. While IDW will no doubt use the the footage to drum up interest for the next chapter in the comic book series, it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the pilot will get. Can the power of the Comic-Con crowd make network chiefs change their mind?