EXCLUSIVE: The CW and Warner Bros Television have made a deal to develop Dark Shadows: Reincarnation, an hourlong gothic horror drama based on the 1966 Dan Curtis-created cult classic TV soap opera. The pilot will be written by Mark B. Perry, whose credits include Revenge, Ghost Whisperer and Brothers & Sisters. He will be exec producer along with Amasia Entertainment’s Michael Helfant, Bradley Gallo and Tracy Mercer, along with Tracy Curtis and Cathy Curtis.
The re-imagined show will be a modern-day continuation of the strange, terrifying, and sexy saga of the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine — a mysterious, influential, publicity-shy group hiding a ghastly secret: For the past 400 years, they’ve lived under a curse that bedevils their blue blood with every imaginable supernatural creature and horror. The intention here is to harken back to the original, which was so popular it actually saw Shakespearean actor Jonathan Frid become as popular in the teen magazines as the young heartthrobs of the moment, for his role as the vampire Barnabas Collins.
As a kid, Perry ran home from school to catch the gothic soap — it aired each weekday after school — and for the past two years had been aggressively pursuing the rights.
Said Perry: “As a first-generation fan, it’s been a dream of mine to give Dark Shadows the Star Trek treatment since way back in the ’80s when Next Generation was announced, so I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to be entrusted with this resurrection. And while I could never hope to fill Dan Curtis’ very large shoes, I do aspire to carry them a little farther into the future. I also want to reassure the fans of the original that this version will treat the show’s mythology with the same reverence given to Star Trek, but will also make the show accessible for audiences who aren’t yet familiar with the macabre world of the Collinses. My plan is to take as few liberties as possible with the Dark Shadows canon, while bearing in mind a quote from a 1970s episode delivered by the inimitable Oscar-nominee Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman: ‘The Collins family history is not particularly famous for its accuracy.’”
Curtis’ daughters Tracy and Cathy Curtis brought the iconic property to Amasia’s Mercer, with the hope of revitalizing and introducing their father’s legacy to a new generation. The two Tracys met when they worked together on CBS’s hit drama, Madam Secretary, where Mercer was a producer and Curtis was an editor. “I knew Tracy was a die-hard fan of my father’s work and would protect his vision by bringing on someone who understood how special this property is,” Tracy Curtis said. “My expectations were surpassed when she introduced us to Mark and I heard his incredible take. I felt my father was watching from above and smiling down on us. Tracy and I couldn’t be happier to have Mark take viewers back to Collinwood. Mark has opened up our father’s universe with fresh storylines and new characters that will delight original fans even as they thrill younger viewers.”
Mercer added, “Mark’s talent, unique take, and absolute fanboy love for Dark Shadows made him our ideal showrunner.” Helfant, also a first-generation fan, said, “We were thrilled to be in a competitive situation with the pitch for DSR. Gaye Hirsch and her team have a stellar track record with smart genre programming, so The CW makes total sense for this new incarnation of the godfather of horror TV.”
Amasia Entertainment is in pre-production on John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romance feature film, Wild Mountain Thyme, starring Emily Blunt, Jon Hamm, Jamie Dornan and Christopher Walken. Their Sundance thriller, Them That Follow starring Olivia Colman, Walton Goggins, Kaitlyn Dever, Alice Englert and Jim Gaffigan, is currently in theaters. The company is also developing a film from the Emil Ferris graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, and has at CBS Studios an untitled Hartley Voss (Orange is the New Black) created political drama with Ted Humphrey the show runner.
Curtis himself took a couple of cracks at reviving Dark Shadows in a 1995 series and 2005 telepic, and Tim Burton directed a campy feature on the subject.