The Return of Firefly

“When your miracle gets here, you just pound this button once. It’ll call back both shuttles.”

– Wash, ‘Out of Gas’

It’s been an exciting week for Browncoats. Unless you’re living on a border planet, you’ll have undoubtedly seen this from Captain Tightpants himself Nathan Fillion in a recent interview on EW, discussing the return of the original 14 episodes of Firefly on US networks (on the Science channel).

“If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.”

– Nathan Fillion, 17th February 2011

In the wake of this (and naturally, there was plenty of wake) came a couple of tweets from Firefly writers Jose Molina (Ariel, Trash), and Jane Espenson (Shindig), pledging their (serious) interest and support in the project if it were ever to happen.

“For what it’s worth, I’ve told him I’d drop what I was doing and follow”

Jose Molina, 19th February 2011

“@JoseMolinaTV I’m there, if needed.”

Jane Espenson, 19th February 2011

As you can expect, there have been a zillion blog and news posts about all this. Why one more here? Because the signal has to get out there. We know all about it, but the rest of the ‘verse is gonna know it too. ‘Cause they need to.

But doesn’t this happen every year or so? A recent Whedonesque post highlighted a few more recent attempts (now all aborted) at getting Firefly renewed, following with some interesting discussion on whether it could happen or not: 20th Century Fox unlikely to sell rights to Firefly says EW’s James Hibberd.

Help Nathan Buy Firefly

Regardless of any cynicism or squeeing, pros or cons, we have motivation now that we didn’t have on previous attempts; Fillion’s quote, and the support of two of the writers. People directly involved with Firefly, essentially saying ‘you make it happen, and we’ll make it happen’.
Fansites and facebook pages naturally sprung up. HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com seems to be the official one, taking pledges and comments (not money, yet), to see if it’s possible to raise enough interest for Mr Fillion to make his comment reality. Help Nathan Buy Firefly – the facebook page – had about 10,000 ‘Likes’ within it’s first few hours, and that number is growing steadily.

Let’s assume it’s even possible for a moment. Then what happens? What of Joss Whedon, what would his actual take be on this? In 2010 he made it evident that Firefly is a show still exceptionally close to his heart; from our transcript of his Melbourne Writers’ Festival keynote speech;

“(I) don’t think…*big sigh* that would…that there will be anything as bad for me as that loss. Every day. Every day, I think about episodes I was going to make.”

– Joss Whedon, 27th August 2010

Alan Tudyk (Wash) took the recall button from Out of Gas and presented it to Joss Whedon, saying that if the series was ever renewed, press it and the cast would come back to him.

There’s no doubt of his being willing and able – but getting everyone together when they all have contracts and schedules? Is it really a case of, as I’m sure many of is have dreamed – Captain Mal pushing the recall button, and everyone comes back?

Would everyone be required? Where in the timeline could Firefly relaunch from? Pre- or post-Serenity? Pre- or post-Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale? With the majority of River’s psychosis resolved and the story of Shepherd Book revealed, and with the losses incurred and semi-resolution and pairings in Serenity, to quote Once More With Feeling, where do we go from here?

Can it be done? Is there enough fan dedication to make the Browncoat dream an actual reality? Has there long been opportunity for viewers to fund a second season?

“Let’s say that Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly, wanted to bring the series back to air. (Though “back to air” is a TV phrase now as anachronistically quaint as “switching the dial.”) Let’s say he found a million Firefly fans online–and, trust me, they’re not hiding–who were willing to pay, say, $39.99 each for a sixteen-episode season of Firefly. (Not an unreasonable price, given how many people pay about that amount for full seasons on DVD.) Suddenly, Joss Whedon’s got roughly $40 million to play with–and he doesn’t need a network. Or a time slot. Or advertisers. He can beam the damn shows right to your computer if he wants to.”

– from More on Firefly and the Long Tail on the official weblog of Henry Jenkins

Look at the pretties!

All of this counts on 20th Century Fox being willing to sell. Fox are staying quiet, perhaps assuming that this is just another internet petition to try renew one of their many cancelled shows. Some online reports say they’ll never sell, regardless of offers. And why would they? It costs them nothing to keep it. They still make plenty on the DVD sales, and being in the bad books with Whedonites world-over mean they have fairly constant attention online. Selling Firefly wouldn’t benefit them, short of the cool Fillion-guestimated $300mil fans now hope to raise (though the math indicates it wouldn’t actually need to be that much to be plausible). While Fox’s marketing team seems to be made of FAIL, their accountants must surely be able to do the math, too; sell for lump sum, or reap the benefits of continual Firefly DVD sales forever? Is there any price they’d be willing to agree to sell on?

As a Browncoat my answer is, truthfully, I don’t care how it happens, I just want it to happen. It is Firefly, it is Joss, it would be brilliant. Respectful to the other non-TV canon we’ve seen over the years, while being enough of the same Firefly we love, and still managing to be shiny and new. New characters and old. New story arcs and old.

I don’t care. Just get Firefly back in some way, shape or form.

If you want to see this even have a chance of becoming a reality, then spread the word, and keep your eyes on Help Nathan Buy Firefly. They’re currently researching ways to feasibly accept donations (kickstarter has been talked about) and other ways to legitimise the endeavour.

We will attempt to do the impossible, and that will make us mighty…


15 Responses

  1. itistiiiime says:

    The answer is, of course… … get ready?

    … Firefly: The Animated Series. It pretty much fixes all the “issues” with making a new show. Reduces the costs considerably, doesnt effect the current show.

    Its the obvious answer.

  2. Min says:

    Well I said any way, shape or form, right? As long as Whedon was behind it I’m sure us Browncoats would accept any format. Though it would be a shame to have any of the actors reprise their role as a voice only, they’re all so very pretty 😛

    The other danger would be that it may be considered a kid’s show, and it may even be marketted as one on traditional networks.
    I’m still all for live action, low-budget, internet distributed. Maybe get Felicia Day on board the Serenity, she knows how to drive a web series (not that Joss isn’t fully capable, it would just be awesome to see her on board to be honest)!

  3. Min says:

    More support – author Patrick Rothfuss has written An Open Letter to Nathan Fillion, stating:

    Here’s the deal. My second book is about to come out. My publisher tells me there’s a decent chance of us selling a truly ridiculous number of copies. If this happens, I will have more money than I’ll know what to do with.

    Except that’s not exactly true. I know exactly what I’d like to do with that money. I’d like to help you buy the rights to Firefly back from Fox.

    This just keeps getting better and better..!

  4. There actually is more Firefly out there already. While Joss didn’t write or direct it, he did approve it. Adam Baldwin and a few other original cast members make an appearance as well. Check out Browncoats: Redemption at http://browncoatsmovie.com/. All the proceeds go to charity too.

  5. Simon says:

    One major problem is that Universal owns some of the rights. So while fans may cry out for 20th Century Fox to sell the rights to Firefly, they will have to deal with Universal too. And why should Universal or even 20th Century Fox give up the rights?

  6. andross says:

    If Fox wouldn’t be willing to sell the rights outright, then i would think it would be feasible to at least license the rights from them…that way fox gets to keep its residuals and new Firefly can be made without their direct involvement

  7. Madi says:

    If Fox is reasoning that doing nothing will benefit their bank accounts, the answer for fans of Firefly is simple….cut Fox off! A viewers’ strike hurts them where it counts most, the pocket. One week of skipping prime time viewing, PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED 7-10 days in advance will send advertisers into a panic. Here is a link to how much Fox gets for a 30 second commercial during primetime (ranked by programs) http://www.frankwbaker.com/prime_time_programs_30_sec_ad_costs.htm

    Keep in mind that most advertisers show more than once commercial during a program. So doing the math, if advertiser know there is a viewer boycott, they are going to want to pull advertising. Estimate a week of prime time advertising revenue loss and a 5 day strike can cost Fox up to $250 million dollars. We are not helpless, we are their income base and we KNOW what we want.

    Good news for TV junkies…you don’t have to STOP watching TV. You can watch the other networks that are not owned by Fox http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_Corporation but I would suggest 5 days of curling up with a good book and waiting it out.

  8. theebanana says:

    Why exactly isn’t Fox interested in selling? doesn’t make sense to hold a licensed property just to keep it off the “air”…?
    OR….why wouldn’t Fox be interested in selling the limited internet license of Firefly and keep the tv/movie distribution rights?

  9. G.S.Davis says:

    Smart move on Patrick Rothfuss’ part. Browncoats will buy his books 🙂 (I’m not saying that’s why he did it, but it will be a great side effect). An Animated series would be awesome, but it’s still using Firefly’s universe, and we’d still have to get the rights. On the flip side, if you do an animated series today, with Anime and Star Trek Animated out there, there is a precedent for “Adult cartoons” that aren’t loaded with that stigma. It is a good idea to use animation in order to reduce costs.

  10. Kristy and Sean says:

    Solution: lease the rights from fox, let them keep the DVD distribution rights for the original episodes. It costs them nothing and they have nothing to lose.

  11. Rocky says:

    You make it sound like FOX has nothing to gain and only money to lose because of the false dichotomy you have proposed:
    “sell for lump sum, or reap the benefits of continual Firefly DVD sales forever?”
    I feel like I’m in one of those Miller Light commercials where they merge the two TV shows (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA97kzai-Ew)

    Why couldn’t FOX have both? I don’t think it would be hard to negotiate the conditions where FOX continues to own distribution, advertising, and merchandising rights in the existing Firefly episodes, and Fillion(for example) pays to buy the rights to produce and advertise for future Firefly-related material. FOX would get to keep the DVD revenue stream, and they would get a new chunk of money they didn’t have for something they were never planning to use anyway. Doing that kind of deal would be a net profit for them.

  12. Justin says:

    If you’re going to raise $300m just to buy the rights to season 1, why not instead give that $300m to Joss to make a second season?

  13. mo says:

    Not just writers–Jewel Staite, Sean Maher and Morena Baccarin are in. (Ms Baccarin’s tweet was cut off, but it reads like a yes.)

  14. Min says:

    @mo – oh! They did too! Dug through twitter feed (didn’t have to look too far..!) and here they are:

    @JewelStaite – 22nd February 2011 – permalink

    “Is the pope catholic? RT: @Taxicr: Any comment on the group organized to get @NathanFillion the rights to Firefly? Would u be on board?”

    @Sean_M_Maher – 23rd February 2011 – permalink

    “OF COURSE I WOULD BE ON BOARD if @NathanFillion acquired the rights to the show!”

    @missmorenab – 24th February 2011 – permalink

    “@stuxmusic: @missmorenab do you support the fight to get Firefly back on TV? http://www.helpnathanbuyfirefly.com” People! You know my answer is a”

    ROFL @ Morena’s (not-)answer!!

  15. DanishDoom says:

    I’d say Kickstarter is quite a good idea too raise the funds. I mean, in only one month the people behund the wen-comic “Leat I COuld Do” managed to gather more than 105.000 dollars. I’d say Firefly would have some good chances at getting waaay more money than that. But still, this doesnt solve the problem with Fox…

    Damn, would i wish i could tell a few Fox executive’s aout the “Chain of command”… (Credit to Jayne)

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