When news of Hannibal‘s cancelation surfaced Monday, it didn’t take long for fans and showrunner Bryan Fuller to start the #SaveHannibal campaigns on social media. With 10 episodes to go in season three, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Fuller to pick his brain on shopping the series around, plans for a potential fourth season, and what’s in store for the final 10-episode run.
Is the plan to shop the series around?
There has been interest from a few different parties. It’s all about gauging how much of an interest, and there are certain avenues that I know we wouldn’t be able to do — for instance, Netflix, because our deal with Amazon precludes a Netflix component. So it’s not a good deal for them to make, even though they’ve been so kind in terms of their enthusiasm for the show. The contract limits what they could do with it. The studio is talking with other venues to see how serious their interest is.
Does that include Amazon, since it has the rights to the first two seasons?
Amazon makes the most sense, honestly, because they have been great partners with us for three seasons and we are exclusively streaming on Amazon. It feels like they have the interest in the program.
Do you have a preference on whether the show continues on cable or a streaming site?
I see the benefits of both, but I do love the idea of continuing on with our partners at Amazon. But we’re at a dance and we want to be asked out on the floor. All suitors are welcome.
Making a cancellation announcement with 10 episodes to go seems pretty early. Is there a particular reason it was made so far in advance?
It was based on their contracts. They had to give the studio an answer by the time the cancellation was announced.
Executive producer Martha De Laurentiis tweeted that the show has always been in danger because of the content. Can you expand on that?
It’s a dark show, so we were never going to have a broad audience. I think the reference is just in general to niche cable interests on a broadcast network. It’s a dangerous place to be.
Was it purely a ratings decision, or were there other factors at play?
It’s a pretty cut-and-dry mathematical cancellation. We were a 0.5 [adults ages 18-49]! So no other factors were necessary.
Did the rights issues to The Silence of the Lambs and the Clarice character impact the decision at all?
Oh no, nothing at all. Clarice wasn’t in the plan for the fourth season. It’s much cooler, actually. The plan for Clarice would be season five.
Can you hint about what you had planned?
Oh, no, I can’t give that away! That would ruin the third season ending. It all ties in. The end of the third season is pretty dramatic, so we can’t give that away.
Will there be closure for fans with that ending if the show isn’t picked up elsewhere?
There will be a huge move for the show, and it will be as satisfying an ending as it would have been in the first two seasons. So if we had ended with Will taking the fall for Hannibal’s crimes, that would be a satisfying ending. Or if Hannibal is actually laying all of his friends to waste and walking out in the rain, that would be a satisfying ending. And this ending for season three would be as satisfying.
Did you script the finale as a series finale just in case?
Absolutely, every season I’ve assumed with how hard [NBC Entertainment president] Jennifer Salke has fought for the programming executives at NBC to keep this show on for three years, they were quite willing and happy to cancel it after the first season. If it weren’t for Jen fighting for this show, it would have been. So I have always assumed and planned for every season to end in such a fashion that it would have some element of closure for the audience in terms of the story.
How many seasons would you ideally have liked to have?
About halfway through the previous season I go, “Oh! That’s what the next season is.” So I could imagine a scenario where I’m halfway through season five and going, “Oh! This is what season six would be.” It really is up to the audience appetite and the appetite of our distribution partner.
You’ve got American Gods at Starz coming up. Was that in first position to Hannibal? If there were a fourth season, could you return as showrunner?
No, actually they’re completely separate deals. If there was a fourth season, we would coordinate a way to be able to allow me to do American Gods and Hannibal as well.
If the show doesn’t continue, can you see it living on in movie or comic book form?
Oh yeah, the plan for the fourth season would actually make a wonderful psychological thriller if we contained it to a movie. I would love to do a Hannibal movie with this cast.
What can you tease about what’s in store for the last 10 episodes?
The next four complete the Italian arc of the season. They are as insane and gory as anything we’ve done on the show and are actually among my favorite episodes we’ve ever done. And then we get into the Red Dragon arc in episode eight. We introduce Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, and that is a thrill, to be able to tell that story in the context of our characters and their significantly altered relationships from the novels.
Hope that Hannibal will continue at Amazon? Looking forward to the Italy conclusion? Sound off in the comments below and watch this exclusive first look at Thursday’s new episode, “Aperitivo.”
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.