'12 Monkeys' Adaptation Near Series Order at Syfy (Exclusive)

Twelve Monkeys One Sheet - P 1995

Syfy is continuing its push into the post-apocalyptic landscape.

The cable network, which previewed Ron Moore's Helix at Comic-Con, is adapting Terry Gilliam's 1995 feature 12 Monkeys, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The movie starred Bruce Willis as James Cole, a convicted criminal in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth's population is forced to live underground after a deadly virus. In a bid to earn a pardon, Cole uses the imperfect science of time travel to help collect information on the virus released by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys.

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Feature film producers Chuck Roven and Richard Suckle of Atlas Entertainment -- one of the production companies on board the Universal film -- submitted the pitch, which is being eyed as a 90-minute backdoor pilot that would eventually lead to a straight-to-series order in a fashion similar to Syfy's Battlestar Galactica. Terry Matalas (Nikita, Terra Nova, Star Trek: Enterprise) and Travis Fickett (Nikita, Terra Nova) will pen the script, with 24's Jon Cassar on board to direct the project, which hails from Universal Cable Productions.

"We have a great pilot. We're now flushing out what the rest of the series might be," Syfy president of original programming and co-head of original content at UCP Mark Stern told The Hollywood Reporter.

Willis, Brad Pitt, Jon Seda and Madeleine Stowe starred in the feature, which earned Pitt an Oscar nomination for his supporting turn. The film grossed $168 million worldwide. The film itself was inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short La Jetee.

12 Monkeys comes as Syfy looks to beef up its original scripted fare, following the successful launch of pricey drama Defiance. The network is looking to add five or six new original scripted projects for 2014 to join Helix, which also was picked up straight to series.

"We're looking at short orders, maybe eight to 10 [episodes] as opposed to 13," Stern said. "Some may be [split runs of] 10 and 10. Our goal is to do five or six original scripted series a year and a big tentpole event miniseries that could also possibly serve as a backdoor pilot to a series as well, the way that Battlestar Galactica did. It's an exciting time for us."

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"We're really trying to figure out what our next year is going to be," he added. "We have Helix in January; we're trying to figure out what our summer series is going to be. We have a lot of different options. We know that Defiance is going to come back in the summer, and the last six episodes of Warehouse 13 are going to be back along with Defiance. Then there's this big gray zone after that of what follows. We definitely have a miniseries we want to try to do for December of 2014 -- Jamie Foxx's is a series of half-hours we might do for Halloween of 2014. We're looking to do a big four-hour miniseries -- a tentpole mini -- at the end of 2014, and we're trying to figure out what that's going to be."

"We have a half-dozen scripts that are all pretty amazing in their own way," Stern said of Syfy's development pipeline. "It's a return to our roots in terms of science fiction: cool, interesting push-the-genre science fiction. Some we're looking at doing straight to series, because you really want to give them the flexibility and do a closed-ended, arced run. Some of them are going to be traditional pilots, and then we'll decide and they may be a bit more episodic."

12 Monkeys joins a development roster that also includes Bryan Fuller's High Moon and Proof, from M. Night Shyamalan, among others.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com