10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Grisham Universe': Hulu Sets Innovative Two-Show Franchise
Hulu is teaming with best-selling author John Grisham to launch an innovative universe with a pair of interconnected series.
The streamer is teaming with ABC Signature to develop what it is calling The Grisham Universe, a format that will start with two scripted series — Grisham's The Rainmaker and Rogue Lawyer — that will share one storyline with the potential to grow the franchise with other shows. Code Black's Michael Seitzman and Detroit 187's Jason Richman will serve as writers and executive producers on both potential series, with Grisham and Seitzman's Maniac Productions' Christina Davis also on board as EPs. The project, currently in the development stage, hails from ABC Signature, the cable- and streaming-focused arm of ABC Studios.
The Grisham Universe begins with The Rainmaker and Rogue Lawyer and combines them to create what ABC Signature is calling "wholly original": two books, two shows, one shared storyline. The two shows are independent of one another but feature intersecting storylines that create a new template uniquely designed for Hulu's platform. The plotlines of each show are told in a way that a viewer can watch vertically, viewing all of one without the other, and be told a story. But they're also told so that a viewer can watch horizontally, navigating from episode 101 of The Rainmaker to episode 101 of Rogue Lawyer, then episode 102 of Rainmaker to 102 of Rogue Lawyer, and so on. While some characters will live in just one show, many characters from each show will cross into and become integral to the other.
The project arrives at a time when streamers, cable networks and broadcasters alike are taking a page from the film world and looking for intellectual property that can be turned into franchises of multiple series in a bid to own content, define their brands and lure viewers and subscribers. The news comes as Hulu is also teaming with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to bring his Wild Cards universe into a multiple-series world on its platform. Hulu currently has one writers room working on two series in the Wild Cards world. Elsewhere, Netflix and Amazon each spent nine figures to acquire rights to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, respectively, with the hope that those properties can deliver multiple TV series and films and help bring subscribers to their respective platforms in an era of increased competition (and 520-plus scripted originals).
Seitzman (Quantico, Intelligence) and Richman are repped by WME.