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Syfy is embarking on some child’s play.
The NBCUniversal-owned cable network is teaming with Chucky creator Don Mancini for a TV series based on the terrifying killer doll. Additionally, Syfy has handed out formal pilot orders to the AI drama Cipher and the Lorne Michaels-produced dark comedy (Future) Cult Classic.
Chucky, which is purely in development, landed at Syfy following a multiple-network bidding war. The potential series will be the first time the Child’s Play character has been adapted for television after Syfy closed the deal for the rights. Mancini, who penned the Child’s Play feature film franchise, will write the script.
“I’ve long wanted to bring Chucky to television and Syfy is the perfect network for us,” said Mancini, who teased the news with a cryptic tweet back in June. “The show will be a fresh take on the franchise, allowing us to explore Chucky’s character with a depth that is uniquely afforded by the television series format, while staying true to the original vision that has terrorized audiences for over three decades now.”
The franchise, which launched in 1988 with Child’s Play, consists of seven films, all written by Mancini and produced by David Kirschner. The pics have grossed nearly $200 million worldwide and also led to a massive wave of merchandising that includes video games, comics and other paraphernalia. The TV project arrives six months after news broke that MGM is remaking Child’s Play for the big screen.
The potential Chucky TV series will be produced in-house at Universal Cable Productions with Mancini, Kirschner (Hocus Pocus) and Nick Antosca (Hulu’s The Act) executive producing. The project hails from UCP-based Antosca’s newly launched Eat the Cat banner.
“It’s very rare that you get the opportunity to bring such an iconic character to your network, let alone with the original creator attached,” said Bill McGoldrick, NBCU Cable Entertainment president of scripted. “We look forward to working with Don, David and Nick on putting their blood, sweat, and more blood into bringing the Chucky story to television.”
Chucky brings Antosca and Mancini back to Syfy after the cable network canceled the anthology Channel Zero, which was axed earlier this month after a four-season run. Antosca’s credits include NBC’s Hannibal, Believe and Last Resort.
“I worked with Don on Hannibal and on Channel Zero for Syfy, so developing Chucky with UCP really feels like coming home,” Antosca said. “Syfy is the perfect place to tell the next chapter in the Chucky saga and having the original creative team lead the project will help elevate the story we are excited to tell.”
On the pilot side, Cipher follows a 13-year-old video game junkie whose brain is unexpectedly implanted with secret military technology. He and his father find themselves at the center of a great war over artificial intelligence.
Allison Miller (CBS All Access’ Strange Angel) will write and exec produce via her overall deal with UCP. David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Brandon James will also exec produce on behalf of Rough House Pictures (Halloween, and HBO’s upcoming Righteous Gemstones). Peter Hoar (The Umbrella Academy) will direct.
(Future) Cult Classic is set 18 years in the future and centers on a group of teens whose community is rocked by a 1990s slasher-movie obsessed serial killer. The heroes realize they’re being targeted and decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer — before time runs out. Shay Hatten (Ballerina) will pen the script and exec produce alongside Tim Kirkby (Veep), with the latter also set to direct the pilot. Michaels’ Broadway Video will exec produce.
“Cipher and (Future) Cult Classic are genre-bending stories with gripping scripts and talented creatives attached,” McGoldrick said. ““Both are very unique projects that we are excited to pilot as we look toward the future of Syfy.”
The development slate arrives as Syfy is saying farewell to Killjoys this year after a five-season run and after the cabler axed Channel Zero and Z Nation after four and five seasons, respectively. Syfy’s current scripted roster includes The Magicians, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp, Happy, Krypton, The Purge and Deadly Class, with a decision yet to be made about the future of George R.R. Martin’s pricey space drama Nightflyers.
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