11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Wynonna Earp' Back on Track for 2020 Return After IDW's Funding Woes Nearly Sinks Syfy Drama
It's (another) TV miracle.
Months after a lack of funding from producers IDW Entertainment derailed the fourth season of Syfy fan-favorite Wynonna Earp, the genre drama from showrunner Emily Andras is back on track for a summer 2020 debut.
Production on season four — which was poised to start months ago — will finally resume before year's end as the sci-fi Western will debut on Syfy and its Canadian home on Space in 2020. Production is expected to begin once new deals with the cast are completed. Given the months-long delay, the options on the cast all expired as the drama typically announces its renewal in July at San Diego Comic-Con after picking up those pacts.
Sources say that NBCUniversal-owned Syfy, which pays a licensing fee to air the series domestically, contributed additional funding to help IDW get the beloved series starring Melanie Scrofano back on track. Canadian distributor Space did the same, though Syfy remains the biggest financial partner in the show. (Given IDW's ownership of the franchise, it was not possible for Syfy to produce Wynonna Earp on its own as it does not hold the rights to the show based on the comic created by Beau Smith.)
Additionally, IDW Entertainment — an offshoot of the comic book company IDW Publishing, whose TV credits include Hulu-turned-Netflix drama Locke & Key and Netflix's V-Wars — has teamed with Cineflix Studios as a co-producer on the series. Cineflix Rights will sell all four seasons of Wynonna Earp internationally, which is expected to help stabilize funding issues that originally derailed the show from its planned 2019 return.
The lack of international sales was a key roadblock to additional funding as IDW had sold SVOD rights to the first two seasons of Wynonna Earp to Netflix. (There are currently no deals in place for a third, fourth or even fifth season of the series to be licensed to Netflix.) Syfy remains committed to Wynonna Earp, having greenlit a fifth season of the drama — a tidbit revealed as part of an IDW public filing and included in the deal for season four. While it's unclear if the fifth season will become a reality, Syfy expects IDW to deliver on that order.
Still, the fact that Wynonna Earp is returning at all should be considered impressive. In the current Peak TV landscape, few — if any — series have successfully overcome issues like a lack of funding from its producers. Sources familiar with the deal credit Syfy, Space and Cineflix for helping to bring the series back.
"Syfy has never wavered in its support of Wynonna Earp, a unique and important series with some of the most passionate fans anywhere. To our Earper friends: Thank you for your patience and faith as we worked with our partners to ensure that Wynonna can get back to where it belongs … on Syfy,” the network said Tuesday in a statement.
Issues with Wynonna Earp began in late February, when star Scrofano tweeted that the show had yet to resume production and questioned what was happening behind the scenes. IDW, which pays for the cost of production and owns the rights to the series, was suffering from financial issues and could not afford to resume production at the time. Still, the company said in a statement at the time that they were "committed" to Wynonna Earp: "Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon."
An immediate fan campaign from the show's dedicated base — called "Earpers" — started immediately. Billboards with the hashtag #FightForWynonna were plastered across Times Square and scores of other locations across the U.S. in a bid to help raise awareness for the series and encourage IDW to find a way to bring the show back.
"There's certainly value, but I think the way you have to think about it is, is it worth making Wynonna Earp and taking the risk that you don't sell out the international, right?" said Adam Wyden, founder of New York-based hedge-fund ADW, which owns 9 percent of IDW Media Holdings, told The Hollywood Reporter in March. "How do we justify making season four and five if we know we're going to lose money? IDW is working very, very hard to try and sell up the international windows so they can limit the amount of risk. The company wants to make Wynonna Earp."
A specific 2020 return date for Wynonna Earp has yet to be determined. Seven24's Jordy Randall and Tom Cox, Cineflix's Peter Emerson and Brett Burlock executive produce the series alongside Todd Berger and Rick Jacobs.