A second consecutive TV series adaptation of Joe Hill’s comic Locke & Key has not been able to go past the pilot stage. Hulu has passed on its Locke & Key pilot, from Hill, Carlton Cuse and IDW Entertainment. I hear Hulu also passed on pilot Crash and Burn, which tackled the topic of school shootings, in December.
Locke & Key and Crash and Burn were the last remaining hourlong Hulu pilots as the streaming platform had been ramping up straight-to-series orders. That is not a permanent shift in development strategy as Hulu still plans to go through a pilot stage on some projects. The last Hulu pilot to go to series was Marvel’s Runaways.
Written by Hill and directed by It’s Andy Muschietti, Locke & Key was ordered to pilot in April, before the top executive changes at Hulu, which included Joel Stillerman coming in as Chief Content Officer and Randy Freer as CEO.
The pass on the pilot came after Hulu’s creative team, who had supported it, had given the project a blinking green light — setting up a full writers room that produced 6-7 backup scripts and having the sets built with everyone ready to go.
The pilot has been shopped around. According to co-star Samantha Mathis, who revealed in a recent interview that Locke & Key was not picked up by Hulu, “it’s getting shopped around to Amazon and Netflix and Apple and everyone right now.” No prospective buyer is believed to be currently in negotiations about picking up the show but there have been discussions.
Locke & Key revolves around three siblings who, after the gruesome murder of their father, move to their ancestral home in Maine with their mother Nina (Francis O’Connor) only to find the house has magical keys that give them a vast array of powers and abilities. Little do they know, a devious demon also wants the keys, and will stop at nothing to attain them. The pilot’s cast also includes Nate Corddry, Jackson Robert Scott, Megan Charpentier, Owen Teague, Jack Mulhern and Danny Glover.
Locke & Key has been a hard concept to crack as a TV series. It previously was adapted during the 2010-11 development season when it reached the pilot stage at Fox with Josh Friedman writing, Mark Romanek directing, and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing alongside DreamWorks TV. While the pilot, starring Sarah Bolger, Miranda Otto and Nick Stahl, did not go to series, the title has remained a cult favorite, with Hill and IDW Entertainment in 2016 announcing that they were taking a new stab at it for television. The unaired Fox pilot also screened at Comic-Con in 2011.