As expected, The CW is looking to expand the Archie universe following the success of Riverdale.
A companion series centered on Archie comics character Sabrina, titled The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, is in the works at the younger-skewing network, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The hourlong drama reimagines the story of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age tale that traffics in horror, the occult and witchcraft, naturally. The new iteration is described as in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is penning the adaptation, which is being eyed as a companion for Riverdale that would potentially debut in the 2018-19 TV season. He will executive produce with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Jon Goldwater and Lee Toland Krieger, who will direct the pilot should the project move forward. Berlanti Productions will produce in association with Warner Bros. TV.
The move to expand the Archie Comics TV universe is no surprise. Aguirre-Sacasa, who also serves as chief creative officer of Archie Comics, talked to THR about his plans beyond Riverdale ahead of the teen drama’s January launch. “One of the nice things about me being a part of Archie Comics is having access to a library of 4,000 to 5,000 characters,” he said. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats … those are characters who can very easily support their own show. But we [also] have superheroes. So in success, yes, the goal is to expand that way.”
Riverdale has since become an important part of The CW’s schedule. It was the net’s only freshman drama to earn a season two renewal and has enjoyed a nice boost since the entire first season became available on Netflix this past summer, which network president Mark Pedowitz touted to reporters in August at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. The show has also seen strong delayed viewing.
The high school-set series — also a darker take on the classic Archie Comics characters of Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead — will be used this fall to launch The CW’s splashy Dynasty reboot.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of two potential companion projects in development at The CW. The network is also readying a Supernatural spinoff titled Wayward Sisters that will air as a backdoor pilot sometime this season. The CW has had success in recent years with spinoffs such as The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, both of which were spun out from Arrow and are now part of the four-show Arrow-verse on the network that also includes CBS transplant Supergirl.
With more than 400 scripted shows on the air and counting, more and more networks are looking to spinoffs as a way to break through the clutter and attract viewers. NBC has three editions of Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise, and two iterations of his long-running Law & Order brand. Beginning this fall, Fox will pair Lee Daniels’ two music dramas Empire and Star on Wednesdays, including an official crossover between the two dramas. And in addition to the three installments of NCIS, CBS is getting ready to launch the Big Bang Theory prequel series Young Sheldon this fall by pairing the two half-hours.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also represents a homecoming of sorts for the character of Sabrina Spellman. Melissa Joan Hart memorably played the character in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The half-hour, produced by Viacom Productions, ran on ABC for four seasons before moving to The WB for its final three seasons. The comedy wrapped in 2003, three years before The WB would merge with UPN to become The CW.
The Sabrina project is part of a robust slate at Berlanti Productions. The prolific producer has a record-breaking 10 scripted series in the works.