Bryan Fuller On Why Netflix Can’t Save Hannibal (But There’s Still Hope For Season Four)

Photo by: Elisabeth Caren/NBC
Photo by: Elisabeth Caren/NBC

The last few days have been a whirlwind of despair and hope for Fannibals. When the news broke that NBC was opting against renewing Hannibal, a show that had been low in the ratings but high in the hearts of fans since its first season, the petitions and #SaveHannibal twitter campaigns were fierce and immediate. (As of the writing of this article, the petition boasts over 65,000 signatures. Speaking of which… go sign it.) Other internet campaigns began as well, such as the push by Netflix customers to call in and request that Hannibal be picked up by the streaming service which already produces many critically acclaimed shows. Netflix seemed the obvious choice to pick up such a gritty and gory drama, but according to a recent interview with Bryan Fuller, the matter is more complicated than it seems.

“There has been interest from a few different parties,” he answered when questioned about the post-cancellation game plan. “It’s all about gauging how much of an interest and there’s 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.”

Netflix is out, then. This is a blow for Fannibals who hoped to see the show find a home there, but the possibility that Amazon might step in seems to be a hopeful one.

“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,” Fuller explained (sort of) when asked about that very possibility. Fuller is renowned for being a show runner with a very free and loose spoiler policy… but of course that’s a little different than talking about contracts and legal complications. If he’s saying nothing, then it’s probably safe to assume there is nothing to say just yet.

“It’s a dark show, so we were never going to have a broad audience,” Fuller expanded when asked about the show’s long dance with the possibility of cancellation. “…niche cable interests on a broadcast network. It’s a dangerous place to be.” He went on to confirm that the cancellation was based solely on low ratings. “It’s a pretty cut and dry mathematical cancelation. We were a 0.5 [adults ages 18-49]! So no other factors were necessary!” said Fuller.

He also shot down the rumor that rights issues with the possible appearance of Silence of the Lambs character Clarice Starling had something to do with the decision to cancel. “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.” he explained with his usual openness. Of course, that open attitude towards spoilers has its limits, and Fuller drew the line at divulging precisely what his plans for season four would have entailed. “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.”

Speaking of season finales that might also be series finales, Fuller reiterated something he’s said many times in interviews: the finale of each season has been constructed to serve as an overarching end in case of cancellation.

“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,” he stated, also mentioning that the season three finale would have an ending that would 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.”

(Excuse me for a moment, I’m just trying to breathe through my sudden heart palpitations as I attempt to imagine either season one or two’s finales as “satisfying” as an overall endpoint. Perhaps the word he was looking for was “devastating”?)

Regardless of what the season (series?) finale holds, it sounds as though there is still hope for Hannibal. You can join the online campaigns by tweeting with the #SaveHannibal hashtag and signing the online petitions. With the passion and support of the fanbase, maybe we’ll see a season four.

Hannibal airs Thursday nights at 10pm on NBC.


Katie LaCour
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