Netflix's Ted Sarandos on What It Would Take to Bring Back 'Making a Murderer'

Steven Avery in the Netflix original documentary series Making A Murderer - H 2016
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix might not be done with Steven Avery just yet. 

The filmmakers behind buzzed-about true crime docuseries Making a Murderer told reporters Sunday that they have had several phone calls with the convicted murderer since their 10-part exposé on his trial debuted last month on Netflix. “We did record those calls with an eye toward including them in any episodes, should there be any future episodes,” said Laura Ricciardi, who along with Moira Demos began working on Murderer 10 years ago. “This story is ongoing, these cases are open,” Demos later added. “If there are significant developments, we will be there.” 

But will Netflix give them a season two pickup? Given the groundswell of attention that Making a Murderer has received in the month since its Dec. 18 premiere, it seems unlikely that the streaming giant would pass on new installments of the Avery case.

But content chief Ted Sarandos tells The Hollywood Reporter that he has yet to have those conversations with the filmmakers. “We’re not talking about a second season,” he says, explaining that the past month has been too much of a “whirlwind” for those discussions. 

Making a Murderer, which spends nearly 11 hours examining how Avery could transform from an innocent man who served 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit into a convicted murderer, was an unlikely hit for Netflix. Sarandos, speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour Sunday, said even he didn’t anticipate the way that audiences, and the media, would become captivated by the story. 

In an exclusive interview with THR, Sarandos talks about his interest in a second season and why the filmmakers shouldn’t be put on trial for their portrayal of Avery. 

How realistic is a second season? 

There's no idea for a second season, there's no pitch for a second season; we're not talking about a second season. What I was saying about other people covering the story now, it is its own thing and it is its own news cycle. So if Nancy Grace wants to make a lot of talk about it, it's because her audience is talking about the show and she knows it. They're very smart about what's in their zeitgeist and that's why they're talking about it. That's why Discovery is picking up on it [with ID's follow-up special] because they have the same sense that we all did: 'My god, everyone in the world is talking about this case.'

This was a 10-year process with 700 hours of footage. Is the book closed on doing more? 

No. I know you're asking for me to say that we're doing something or not, and we don't know yet. Honestly, this has been a whirlwind since the show went live in a way that the filmmakers didn't anticipate and in a way that we didn't anticipate. They've been in that bubble of talking to the press, more so than we've been talking to each other even.

Do you want more? 

For sure. It's a really compelling story. People are recognizing that it's not about whether or not he's guilty or innocent; it's really about did he get a fair shake and is it fair what happened to him and could that happen to me. That's what people are really reacting to.

What would be the ideal format for a follow up? Another 10 episodes in 10 years? An hour special? 

It really depends on what happens in the next couple months. I think there's been such pressure to look at this case in a different way. [Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker] has been ignoring it. President Obama can't do anything about it. It's on their dockets. I have no idea how it's going to break.

Have the producers been filming everything? 

They've mostly been doing the press so they haven't been working on the film much.

It feels like the series itself is on trial.

They shot 700 hours of footage and they tell a really compelling case in 11 hours. You can decide for yourself: does it prosecute the case or not? I think everyone who has been trying to poke holes in it has failed to poke many holes in it. But the beauty of it is, just watch it and make your own choice.

Considering they have so much material to draw from, are there any plans to draw from the material that they haven't used before?

We'll talk through some different possibilities. It might just be that this is it, that this is how it stands.