11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
AMC's 'Halt and Catch Fire' Renewed for Season 3 With New Showrunners
AMC is staying the course with Halt and Catch Fire.
Despite an infinitesimal viewership, the cable network has renewed the 1980s-set computer drama for a third season with new showrunners, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Season three will again consist of 10 episodes and return to AMC in summer 2016.
Produced in-house by AMC Studios, the pricey drama starring Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Scoot McNairy and Kerry Bishe was rebooted after its low-rated freshman season ended with less than 1 million total viewers with seven days of DVR.
The critical darling — under departing showrunner Jonathan Lisco and co-creators/new showrunners Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell — upped its pace based on viewer feedback for season two and focused more on feminism and the birth of the Internet versus the personal-computing boom.
Despite a second round of rave reviews, the reboot did little to move the needle this summer. With three days of delayed viewing, Halt returned with slightly more than 1 million total viewers — and 464,000 among the key adults under 50 set. Its August season two finale delivered only 887,000 total viewers with three days of DVR growth — and 350,000 among the advertiser-coveted demo.
To hear AMC president of original programming Joel Stillerman tell it, Halt — which will move its story from Texas to California following the events of the season two finale — there are no plans as of now for season three to be Halt's last.
"This is a show with a lot of wind left in its sails and compelling story," Stillerman told THR, noting that the network will meet again after season three to discuss a potential fourth round. "We made a move to own our own content a few years back and without that, it's worth noting that at least in our world, I don't think this decision would have been possible. We like viewers believe that when we find something that's working, we should stick with it."
As for the showrunner change, Stillerman noted it was a natural progression and not driven by the show's financials. "Lisco was brought in because Chris and Chris were very young writers and had never had anything produced," he said, calling the transition "seamless": "Jonathan moved on to pursue a passion project of his that predated Halt and left as his legacy Chris and Chris as people he'd mentored who are ready to step up and become showrunners."
While it's too soon for Stillerman to say how AMC plans to boost viewership for the series, he was optimistic about its move to a California setting.
"That's an interesting reinvention moving forward," he said. "We feel like there's an enormous amount of critical love to build on."
The move to bring Halt back comes as AMC has put a renewed focus on original scripted programming after largely scrapping its reality offerings. The cabler's scripted roster includes Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Turn, Better Call Saul, Humans as well as upcoming dramas Into the Badlands, Night Manager, Clyde Phillips' Broke and controversial comic Preacher.
On the development side, AMC is experimenting with the straight-to-series model, setting up writers rooms for dramas Goliath, The Son and Lodge 49.