Between the WGA writers’ strike and Warner Bros. Discovery selling the network to Nexstar Media Group, it’s beginning to look a lot like The CW’s long-mooted reboot of Babylon 5 is dead.
Speaking to TV Line, Brad Schwartz, The CW’s President of Entertainment, spoke about a number of titles previously in development, saying: “We’ve already given those back to the studios, so they’re free to develop those and sell them anywhere.”
He wasn’t talking about Babylon 5 specifically – the article only names the live-action Powerpuff Girls, Arrow spin-off Justice U, a female-led Zorro series, and Jake Chang, but adds “any other prospective series left over from former CW president Mark Pedowitz’s regime.”
The series’ creator J. Michael Straczynski previously paid tribute to Pedowitz on Twitter when his departure was announced at the end of October 2022, thanking him for his “dedication for and support of Babylon 5.”
CBR notes that the new Fall schedule for The CW is low on both genre fare and original drama, pointing towards the cost involved in cutting ties with Warner Bros. Discovery:
When The CW was a joint venture between Warner Bros. and CBS, it was a bit easier to spend big on original content. Each of the owners had a studio, which The CW would pay to acquire the content being produced. They also got DVD, Blu-ray, Digital, and streaming revenue -- meaning that any given show didn't really have to be profitable on linear broadcast TV, because there were additional ways to monetize it after the fact.
One Warner Bros. Discovery show still on The CW is Superman & Lois, and Schwartz described it as “frustrating” that WB held the streaming rights and noted how expensive it was to produce. The suggestion is that if The CW are going to spend money on original drama, they want to be able to fully monetize it.
That same rationale obviously applies to Babylon 5, which is a core Warner Bros. Discovery property, so WBD will be responsible for streaming rights, DVD, Blu-ray, etc. Now the reboot could still surprise us, a deal could be struck, and it still finds a place on the network, but the odds don’t look good.
If there's any silver lining, perhaps it’s this: Babylon 5 was, let’s face it, always a weird fit for The CW which has made its rep on supernatural and superhero teen drama. Instead, we should look to Babylon 5: The Road Home – if the animated movie does well, perhaps Warner Bros. Discovery will look to reboot Babylon 5 in-house, and don’t you just love the idea of seeing the show on HBO Max?
The cost of your membership has allowed us to mentor new writers and allowed us to reflect the diversity of voices within fandom. None of this is possible without you. Thank you. 🙂