We may have a repeat of 2017 when NBC canceled Timeless after one season but reversed its decision days later following fan outcry. Manifest, another high-concept NBC drama with passionate fan base that started its run in the high-profile Monday 10 PM slot, also could get resurrected following its cancellation by the network.
A month after the missing plane drama was axed by NBC after three seasons and Netflix opted not to pick it up, NBC is in conversations with Manifest studio Warner Bros TV about a possible renewal, sources tell Deadline. In an intriguing twist, I hear Netflix also has resumed talks with Warner Bros TV about a fourth season on the streamer and they have been picking up momentum.
The conversations are happening as Manifest Season 1 and Season 2 viewership continues to surge on Netflix in the U.S. and the #SaveManifest fan campaign remains strong. Reps for Warner Bros TV, Netflix and NBC declined comment.
Two other things happened since NBC on June 14 canceled Manifest, the highest-rated on linear among the network’s four bubble shows by a wide margin, especially in total viewers.
The network’s planned eight-episode Season 5 pickup of Good Girls fell through at the last minute over cast-deal issues, and NBC on June 25 announced that Good Girls would not be coming back after all.
On July 15, NBC revised its fall 2020 schedule, revealing that ordered new spinoff series Law & Order: For the Defense was not moving forward, with veteran The Blacklist taking the drama’s Thursday 8 p.m. slot.
The two moves freed up funds in NBC’s 2020-21 drama series budget and opened up holes on the schedule, which is believed to have helped reopen renewal talks with Warner Bros TV on Manifest.
Meanwhile, I hear Netflix has restarted talks after passing on the show in June as Manifest has been showing great resilience, remaining in the daily top 10 for more than a month and topping the Nielsen streaming ratings in its first week of release on the platform.
There are complicating factors, most notably international distribution for the series. Netflix typically wants global rights for its originals, and Warner Bros TV already has sold Manifest internationally market by market (Season 3 just launched in the UK on Sky.)
That would also be an obstacle to a potential combo NBC-Netflix pact in the mold of the agreement on Good Girls, which included Netflix controlling international rights in addition to domestic full-season streaming.
But Manifest has been too big of a hit in the U.S. for Netflix to not pursue it. Additionally, Warner Bros TV have a working template for successfully moving a canceled broadcast drama to the streamer and overcoming international distribution obstacles with Lucifer, so I hear there is a path to make a deal for Manifest if both sides can reach an agreement.
Manifest creator Jeff Rake, who had kept fans engaged with live-tweeting sessions and trivia contests, appeared to be hinting at possible new developments. On July 12, he started retweeting stories about Manifest‘s strong performance on Netflix with captions like “The case for renewal” and “The case of renewal builds,” repeatedly asking fans to “keep the faith,” telling them Monday that “you are being heard.” Rake has this tweet pinned at the top of his feed:
I’m not giving up. Keep the faith. #SaveManifest
— Jeff Rake (@jeff_rake) July 14, 2021
And, following a Showbiz 411 story earlier today, which first reported about NBC’s renewed interest in Manifest, Rake posted this:
Lots of speculation out there. No comment. Other than, if the impossible happens and the dead rise again, it’s because of YOU.#SaveManifest
— Jeff Rake (@jeff_rake) July 20, 2021
The cancellation marked a premature ending for Manifest, leaving unanswered questions and unresolved Season 3 finale cliffhangers for the series, which had been conceived by Rake for a six-season run.
Manifest stars Josh Dallas, Melissa Roxburgh, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur and Matt Long. I hear the cast is no longer under options and there are no ongoing conversations, but all have participated in the #SaveManifest campaign and have expressed their willingness to come back.
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