'Locke and Key' Picked Up to Series at Netflix

Carlton Cuse_Lock & Key Cover_Split - Publicity - H 2018
Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon; Courtesy of IDW Publishing

After eight years and multiple writers and outlets, IDW's beloved comic Locke and Key is finally coming to the small screen.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Netflix is near a series-order deal for the drama based on Joe Hill's graphic novel from showrunner Carlton Cuse. Netflix declined comment as deals are not done.

Sources say the streamer is in talks to license the rights for the IP and redevelop the drama with IDW Entertainment. The Netflix series is not the Hulu pilot. Instead, Cuse and Joe Hill will redevelop the series for the streaming giant with an entirely new cast and new director. Andy Muschietti, who helmed the Hulu pilot, is busy with It 2 and is no longer avaialble to direct. He will still be credited as an executive producer on the Netflix series.

Netflix's series pickup comes two months after Hulu surprisingly passed on picking up its Locke and Key pilot to series. At the time, WME — who reps Cuse and Muschietti — held screenings of the Hulu pilot in an attempt to find the series a new home, with Amazon and Netflix among those having kicked the tires on the show.

Sources say Hulu executives, including new chief content officer Joel Stillerman (who launched The Walking Dead on AMC) and senior vp Craig Erwich — who greenlighted the pilot — wanted to pick up the project, but new CEO Randy Freer (who joined in October) had the final say and insisted on bypassing the drama about a mother (Frances O'Connor, who will be recast) who moves her family into a haunted house after the patriarch is brutally murdered. Sources say Hulu at the time paid to keep the writers room open long after the pilot with seven scripts already completed. 

With the Netflix series order, Locke and Key has crossed the finish line to series pickup for the first time since it was initially put in development eight years ago. The horror thriller was originally developed for television at Fox, which went to pilot on a take from Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) during the 2010-11 broadcast season. The project, from executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Steven Spielberg and starring Mark Pellegrino, Miranda Otto, Jesse McCartney, Sarah Bolger and Nick Stahl, did not move forward. (It was screened to overwhelming response at Comic-Con.) Universal then grabbed the rights to the comic with Kurtzman and Orsi attached to produce a feature adaptation, which ultimately did not move forward.

Flash-forward to May 2016, when IDW Entertainment CEO Ted Adams and president David Ozer teamed with Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead) to take a second stab at a small-screen take. The effort was taken out to buyers and landed at Hulu with a pilot order in April 2017, with the streamer edging outlets including Netflix, HBO and FX for the project from showrunner Cuse and with Hill attached to pen the script.

Locke and Key is a horror/fantasy series that revolves around three siblings (Jack Mulhern, Megan Carpentier, Jackson Robert Scott in the Hulu pilot) who, after the gruesome murder of their father, move to their ancestral home in Maine only to find the house has magical keys that give them an array of powers. Little do they know, a devious demon also wants the keys and will stop at nothing to attain them.

Comic creator Hill and Cuse collaborated on the pilot script and exec produce alongside Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti and Lindsey Springer, who serves as head of Cuse's production company Genre Arts. Ozer, Adams and Hill also exec produce for IDW. The Hulu cast included Nate Corddry as the children's uncle.

With Locke and Key, Netflix has added another comic book franchise to a roster that already includes multiple Marvel dramas including Jessica Jones and The Punisher as well as Riverdale offshoot Sabrina the Teenage Witch.