The Expanse has been saved! Amazon has closed a deal to pick up the sci-fi drama series, which is in its third and final season on Syfy. The announcement was made tonight by Amazon’s boss himself, Jeff Bezos, at National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles where he was an honoree. It happened an hour or so after The Expanse panel at the same event that featured exec producer and showrunner Naren Shankar and cast members Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham and Steven Strait.
The Expanse team was in the audience for Bezos’ Q&A, with one of them, Anvar, filming the big announcement.
“I was talking to the cast half an hour ago, before the break for dinner started,” Bezos said. “I was telling them that we are working hard at Amazon to save The Expanse but it wasn’t a done deal yet. During dinner, ten minutes ago, I just got word that The Expanse is saved,” Bezos said to a big applause. “The show is extraordinary and these guys are unbelievably talented,” he added, pointing to The Expanse table. Here is the full video by Anvar:
Alcon Television Group, which fully finances and produces The Expanse, had been in talks with Amazon about picking up the critically praised series for Season 4.
Amazon had been a main target for the fans behind the #SaveTheExpanse campaign. The show’s supporters launched a massive effort to get a streaming company to pick up The Expanse after Syfy two weeks days ago decided not to renew the show for a fourth season, with the last episodes slated to air in early July. The campaign has included a petition, which has collected 138,000 signatures to date, and a GoFundMe page, which collected money for a #Save The Expanse banner to be flown over the Amazon headquarters last week.
The talks took awhile because of complex SVOD rights. Amazon owns North American SVOD rights to The Expanse, while Netflix carries the series globally outside of North America and New Zealand.
The Expanse, from Alcon and the Sean Daniel Co, is one of the most well reviewed sci-fi series on TV, with the current third season scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (vs. 95% for Season 2 and 76% for Season 1).
The cancellation decision by Syfy is said to be linked to the nature of its agreement for the series, which only gives the cable network first-run linear rights in the U.S. That puts an extraordinary amount of emphasis on live, linear viewing, which is inherently challenging for sci-fi/genre series that tend to draw the lion’s share of their audiences from digital/streaming.
But that is exactly the type of show a streaming platform like Amazon would be interested in. Additionally, Amazon has been looking to beef up its portfolio of original genre drama series, so The Expanse could fit into that effort.
Co-created and written by Oscar-nominated screenwriting duo Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men), the series is based on the bestselling book series by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S. A. Corey). The cast includes Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham, Frankie Adams and Thomas Jane.