EXCLUSIVE: The Outsider, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, has been put into turnaround after HBO opted not to proceed with a second season. MRC, the studio behind the drama series adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, is taking Season 2 out to market.
The pitch, originally presented to HBO, includes a script and bible for a continuation of the story beyond King’s book, which was the source material for Season 1. Series writer/executive producer Richard Price crafted the Season 2 storyline with King’s blessing, sources said. Centered on Erivo’s Holly character, it expands King’s universe, exploring the human, naturalistic and inexplicable with a sustained pervasive dread you can’t put your finger on.
“We enjoyed our collaboration with Richard, Jason [Bateman], Andrew [Bernstein] and the MRC team, and we wish them well in continuing the world created by the brilliant Stephen King,” HBO said in a statement to Deadline.
The project will be taken to premium networks and streamers, with MRC using its status as an independent to pitch it everywhere. The company has longstanding relationship with Netflix, where MRC has produced hit series House of Cards and Ozark.
The Outsider series steadily built an audience on HBO — growing from 1.2 million viewers for its premiere to 2.2 million for the finale (+90%) — to become the network’s most-watched first-year series in the past three years with 11 million multi-platform viewers per episode. It also is believed to have done well in major international territories.
The Outsider originated as a limited series adaptation of King’s bestseller developed at MRC. While HBO bought and launched it as a drama series, the network brass ultimately decided to keep it as a limited series after hearing the Season 2 pitch.
The show earned an Emmy nomination in the guest actor in a drama series category for The Outsider executive producer and director Bateman, who also has a recurring role on the show. Both Bateman and Erivo have deep ties with MRC: Bateman headlines Ozark, while Erivo has a first-look with MRC Television.
Based on King’s bestselling novel, The Outsider follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. When 11-year-old Frankie Peterson’s body is found mutilated in the Georgia woods, police detective Ralph Anderson (Mendelsohn) sets out to investigate – with eyewitnesses and physical evidence pointing to Terry Maitland (Bateman), a popular high school teacher, Little League coach, doting husband and father. While the case appears ironclad, Ralph is baffled by the emergence of contradictory evidence that places his suspect in a neighboring city at the time of the murder. The mysterious set of circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, a seasoned cop still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney (Erivo), whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable.
The Outsider Season 1 is executive produced by Bateman, who also directed the first two episodes. The series is written for television by Price, who also serves as executive producer. Executive producers include Andrew Bernstein, Marty Bowen for Temple Hill Entertainment, Jack Bender, Michael Costigan for Aggregate Films, and Dennis Lehane. Mendelsohn is a producer. The series is produced by Bateman’s Aggregate Films, Temple Hill Entertainment and Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television.