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Netflix is resurrecting Arrested Development.
Production on the Emmy winning comedy starring Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor and company will resume with new episodes available to members of the DVD rental service beginning in the first half of 2013.
20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television will, for the first time in five years, produce original first-run episodes of the series specifically for the Internet-subscription serivice.
“Arrested Development is one of the finest American comedies in TV history and its return through Netflix is a perfect example of how we are working closely with studios and networks to provide consumers with entertainment they love,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement annoucning the news Friday.
The news comes as Netflix is continuing its push into original content, having beat out premium cable networks like HBO for Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards; the firm is near a deal to distribute Weeds creator Jenji Kohan’s Orange is the New Black.
At a reunion for the cast during this month’s New Yorker Festival, creator Mitch Hurwitz teased the possibility of continuing the critical favorite but ratings underwhelmer, which ran on Fox from 2003-06, with a nine- to 10-episode “miniseason” leading up to an Arrested film. 20th TV declined comment at the time, but Bateman Tweeted the following day that the cast would do “10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13.”
Fox on Friday confirmed the deal and touted the Netflix deal for the series as a “game changer.”
“Netflix’s bold entrance into original programming presents an exciting new opportunity for our two companies,” Fox Filmed Entertainment president of new media and digital distribution Peter Levinsohn said in announcing the deal. “Bringing a classic show back to production on new episodes exclusively for Netflix customers is a game changer, and illustrates the incredible potential the new digital landscape affords great content providers like 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine.”
Added 20th Century Fox TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman, “We build brands at this studio which are so distinctive that audiences still clamor for them years after they go off the air. Arrested Development is a great example of that—it has stood the test of time. This innovative deal with Netflix represents a new business model that is extremely exciting and opens the door for a wide range of new collaborations.”
Added Imagine’s Ron Howard, who served as the comedy’d narrator: “After a long hiatus, I’m dying to finally get back to the narrator’s microphone … ‘It’s Arrested…Development.’ “
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