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The series that aired its first five seasons on Fox before being revived for three more at Comedy Central will return to production this month for a 2023 premiere. Following an extended deal-making period, original stars Billy West (Fry) and Katey Sagal (Leela) along with ensemble players who voiced multiple characters Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and David Herman will all return. John DiMaggio, who provided the voice behind the wise-cracking robot with the “shiny metal ass,” Bender, is finalizing a deal to return as well, though it has not yet closed.
“I’m thrilled to have another chance to think about the future … or really anything other than the present,” Cohen said. Added Groening: “It’s a true honor to announce the triumphant return of Futurama one more time before we get canceled abruptly again.”
Futurama was created by The Simpsons mastermind Groening and intended to air as a companion to the long-running animated series on Sundays on Fox. The network, however, aired its first season on Tuesdays before a series of scheduling moves that ultimately doomed the show.
Over the years, Groening has complained that the network did not support the series despite its now-former studio, 20th Television, owning it outright. Fox would ultimately cancel Futurama in 2003.
The show was revived in 2007 with four direct-to-DVD movies that ViacomCBS-backed Comedy Central would ultimately air as 30-minute episodes. That success prompted Comedy Central to revive the series for subsequent seasons in mid-2010. The show would ultimately wrap a second time in late 2013 after seven seasons and a total of 140 episodes across two different networks.
“When presented with the opportunity to bring fans and viewers new episodes of Futurama, we couldn’t wait to dive in,” said Craig Erwich, president of originals at Hulu and ABC Entertainment. “This iconic series helped blaze the trail for the success of adult animation since its initial launch and we look forward to Matt & David continuing to pave the way and further establishing Hulu as the premiere destination for fans of the genre.”
At Hulu, Futurama will join a roster of original animated series including the Animaniacs revival, Solar Opposites and Crossing Swords. Hulu has also become a go-to platform for adult animation library titles like Family Guy, Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, South Park and the original Futurama, some of which rank among the streamer’s most watched titles thanks in part to their repeatability and sizable fan bases.
“What I love about animation is that it’s possible for a successful show to take a pause and then resume years later, even on a different platform, and pick up right where it left off,” said Marci Proietto, head of animation at producers 20th Television Animation. “Futurama is one of those shows. The excitement from Hulu about returning Matt and David’s genius creation for all-new episodes has been off the charts. I’m thrilled that this incredible team will get to tell more stories, and that our Planet Express crew will have more adventures together. It’s a win for the fans who have loved the show since the beginning, and for the ones who will now discover it for the very first time.”
Futurama becomes the latest adult animated title to be revived, joining the upcoming Beavis & Butt-head update, Daria spinoff Jodie and The Ren & Stimpy Show at Comedy Central, Clone High at HBO Max, and, per sources, King of the Hill, though the latter has not yet been formally announced. The demand for adult animation has become so large that Beavis & Butt-head and King of the Hill creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels recently launched an animation company to help expand the genre into new boundary-pushing tones and styles. Their company, Bandera, already has more than a dozen adult animated shows in the works for multiple platforms.
Adult animation remains a popular genre not just for reboots but for original series as the shows are cheaper to produce than their live-action scripted counterparts. What’s more, production on animated series remains largely unaffected by the pandemic. In success, animated shows that catch on can become multibillion-dollar franchises the way hits like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Rick and Morty have illustrated.
Futurama, which revolves around a pizza delivery guy who accidentally freezes himself in 1999 and wakes up a thousand years later, earned six Emmys during its original run, including two for outstanding animated program; seven Annie Awards; and a pair of WGA prizes.
Groening, who created Futurama and developed it alongside Cohen, will have three animated shows on the air once Futurama joins Fox’s The Simpsons and Netflix’s Disenchantment.
Rough Draft Studios will return to handle the animation.
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