Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker
Jason Bateman (L) and Will Arnett attend The 2011 New Yorker Festival's Arrested Development Panel this weekend.
Jason Bateman (L) and Will Arnett attend The 2011 New Yorker Festival's Arrested Development Panel this weekend. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker
Arrested Development was canceled in 2006 after a three-season run on Fox in which it was beloved by its fans, who were unfortunately as sparse as they were passionate. Almost immediately, talk about a movie began, as it so frequently does about completed shows from hits like Friends to cult-ish favorites like Veronica Mars. In a few rare cases, like Firefly and The X Files, it actually happens.
And so it began.
In mid-2008, Jason Bateman told Keith Olbermann a film was "in the works."
In November 2008, Ron Howard and Jeffrey Tambor said it sure seemed like it was totally happening.
In February 2009, Ron Howard confirmed that it was going forward and Hurwitz was "writing."
In August 2009, Tony Hale told New York Magazine that it was happening, and that Hurwitz was "in the middle of writing it."
In January 2010, Will Arnett confirmed it again and said they hoped to start shooting "this year."
In July 2010, GQ proudly called it an exclusive when creator and showrunner Mitchell Hurwitz and star Will Arnett confirmed that the movie was happening. You know, sometime. Eventually.
Hurwitz officially confirmed the movie some more — on video this time — in February 2011, saying he was "in the process of writing" it, and adding that he hoped to get it out "this year."
Then in July of this year, Arnett told Marc Maron it was totally happening and it would be out ... in 2012.
Now, less than three months later, Hurwitz said at the New Yorker Festival this weekend where he appeared with the cast that it's totally happening (he hopes), and he's like halfway through the script, and his plan is to start shooting next summer (that's 2012), and then there would be some new episodes next fall, and then the actual movie would be out ... in 2013. Creatively, it's all worked out. The only holdouts are the business types.
So here's what we have: Hurwitz has been reported to be "writing" since at least February 2009. The movie was supposed to come out in 2010, then 2011, then 2012, and now 2013. Hurwitz says now that he has part of a script, which is the same thing Tony Hale said two years ago, he hopes to do the episodes, and he wants to do the movie provided they can "get the film companies on board."
Look, I'd love to see the movie happen, both because it would be great to see this cast work together again and because this conversation would finally come to a blessed end. But this is not confirmation that anything is happening. It's nothing like confirmation that anything is happening. This is confirmation that Hurwitz, who has been agreeing that the project is going forward for years, still says it is. And the cast, which has also mostly said over and over that they wanted to do it, still says they want to do it. (There has been some back and forth about Michael Cera, whose film career has now cooled to the point where he might easily be more game, but they've made it clear for a long time that it was going forward with or without him.) Arnett and Bateman, who have both repeatedly expressed a desire to do the project and said it was really happening, took to Twitter to say again that it's really happening.
As hard as it is to hear, if there are no "film companies on board" yet, then "announcement" and "confirmation" are not the right words, and there's no deal. There aren't any episodes if nobody has agreed to air them. There isn't any movie if nobody has agreed to finance one. It's absolutely true that getting the creative people on board and getting a script are the first steps to getting a movie made if there's going to be one, so it's good that this state of affairs that has been in place for two or three years is still in place. But these are necessary, not sufficient, conditions. They don't mean there is a movie.
In fact, a pessimist might point out that this could easily serve as confirmation that there's very little to report since the last time you heard about an Arrested Development movie (since there's no deal with anyone), and not a whole lot to report since 2009, except that the movie they intend to try to make for which everybody is creatively on board has become a movie and a set of episodes that they intend to try to make for which everybody is creatively on board.
None of this is to say it won't happen. The fact that they've been confirming it for three years could be taken by an optimist to mean they're pretty determined not to let it go and are stubbornly insisting on eventually getting it done. And maybe they're close to making more of these deals than they're letting on. IN fact, Deadline reported last night that 20th Century TV is having conversations with Netflix and Showtime about possibly airing the new episodes, so whatever you think having talks in Hollywood is worth, that news is worth at least that much. For it to move beyond that point, though, Hurwitz will have to convince enough folks that the economics of the situation support making new episodes and a feature film from a series that was canceled five years ago for low ratings and could easily have been canceled after a single season.
This particular bit — Hurwitz giving you his "yup" on Twitter and so forth — arguably isn't even news, and it certainly isn't confirmation. Hurwitz has been "yup"-ping since 2009. He "yup"-ped on video eight months ago. He wants to make the movie. They all want to make the movie.
But for precisely that reason, until some person or company is confirmed to be on board that wasn't already confirmed to be on board during the three-year period during which this film has remained a nice idea moving ever farther off on the horizon, there's really no reason to think it's any closer than it's ever been. And in fact, there are those who would argue that being halfway through a script after working on it for more than two years and having just added the additional burden of making a proposed ten new episodes on top of the movie isn't going to make things start moving any faster.