Given the strong emotional reaction everyone at NBC had to Manifest, some had been wondering what was taking so long for the pilot to be picked up to series. The missing-plane mystery thriller comes from an outside studio, Warner Bros. TV, and as we noted yesterday, along with the buzzy pilot, the studio also had bubble sophomore drama series Blindspot at the network, making for some tricky deal-making.
Negotiations have completed successfully, with Manifest, from Jeff Rake and Robert Zemeckis, ordered to series and Blindspot renewed for a fourth season.
While not a strong linear performer, Blindspot has been remarkably consistent and has an established fan base. Additionally, at last year’s renewal, NBC reportedly negotiated a license-fee reduction, so I’d heard the series starring Sullivan Stapleton and Jaimie Alexander has been profitable for the network. And it certainly has been very profitable for the studio, with strong international sales and a Netflix SVOD deal.
It is unclear yet whether Manifest’s pickup involved NBC getting an ownership in the series, something that has become commonplace in today’s environment. Manifest is the first non-Universal TV pilot to go to series at NBC this season, joining Uni TV’s dramas The Village, The Enemy Within, New Amsterdam and The InBetween and comedies Abby’s and I Feel Bad.
The Manifest pilot, written by Rake and directed by David Frankel, stars Melissa Roxburgh, Once Upon a Time alum Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina and Parveen Kaur.
Clearly influenced by the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the high-concept Manifest explores a hypothetical scenario what would happen if a missing plane and its passengers suddenly reappeared.
When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible.
Rake, Frankel, Zemeckis and Jack Rapke executive produce Manifest, which is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Compari Entertainment.
This marks Rake’s return to NBC’s primetime; he created and executive produced comedic crime drama The Mysteries of Laura.
This season, Blindspot has been averaging a 1.2 rating in 18-49 and 5.4 million viewers overall in L+7, improving its new Friday 8 PM time slot by 9% in the demo vs. last year. It is a very time-shifted show, rising by 94% in 18-49 rating going from Live+Same Day to Live+7.
Creator Martin Gero serves as executive producer along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter for Warner Bros. TV, Berlanti Productions, and Quinn’s House. The cast of the series also includes Rob Brown, Audrey Esparza, Ashley Johnson and Luke Mitchell.