Back in early 2001 the original series creator J. Michael. Straczynski announced on Twitter (I refuse to call it X) that he was working towards Babylon 5 returning to our screens. The CW was asking him to write a Pilot script for a hard reboot of the space opera that would hopefully be filmed within months.
3 years later though we still have nothing on our screens…why?
Well not long after the announcement by JMS the network announced it was up for sale. A company called Nexstar was touted early on as the company that was going to take over, a relatively small media company that ran several local networks but the main owners, Paramount and Warner Bros. were looking to step back.
Early 2022 it was announced that they were the preferred bidder and plans were moving forwards. Within months of this The CW stated that the Babylon 5 project was on hold but NOT cancelled. This was because the main man at the CW was a man called Mark Pedowitz… and he is a B5 fan!
JMS had talked in the past about his close working relationship with Mark Pedowitz and how even back when Babylon 5 was in production the first time around, mark would want copies of the edit sent to him before it aired, not to check up on what JMS was doing, but because he was desperate to see the show. Now back then Mark was not the boss at the CW but fast forward to 2021 he was the boss and for the time being in 2022 with the new owners on their way, he still was… at least for now.
By the summer of 2022 Nexstar had started to stamp it’s mark on the CW though. Several big budget shows were starting to get cancelled including the Arrow-verse, the DC shows made by Warner Bros. Very quickly only the brilliant Superman and Louis survived as the successful Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow all fell away.
Why did Nexstar do this? Well they came into the CW, a network that had not been profitable for years, with a statement to be more responsible in how the network was run. They realized quickly that they were spending twice as much on their shows compared to similar networks. The DC shows were the main culprit of this as budgets swelled out of control.
They vowed to make the network profitable by 2024 and they had a plan of how to do that that did not include big budget TV shows.
Then in October of 2022 the hammer blow came down.
Nexstar took control of the CW with a 75% controlling interest. They took control of more than a $100 in debt from Paramount and Warner Bros who stayed on owning only 25% of the network between then. Paramount and WB of course still have deals to produce content for the CW but no longer had control of the network.
Mark Pedowitz then resigned and left the CW. This ended any chance of Babylon 5 going to the network.
Warner Bros, who own Babylon 5 and produced the show originally, did not give up though. They had had the show on HBO Max (now Max) during this time frame and were really happy with the viewing figures, so happy they were determined to bring back the show somehow. They continued to look at the live action reboot JMS envisaged and looked for a new home for it, Apple and Amazon were apparently interested but at the same time they had a secret plan too… the animated movie!
So as usual SciTrek reported exclusively that Warner Bros. were looking for a new home for a live action reboot. As we said Apple and Amazon were both interested, Amazon apparently saw the reimagined B5 series as the perfect show for their advert supported Freevee streaming service. When Babylon 5: The road home was then released there were plenty of rumours about that it’s success had increased interest in the new series and negotiations started in earnest. Apparently even the CW had their interest peaked.
Sadly though the success of the Road Home was also why we will now not be getting the reboot… and here is why.
I can tell you from reading comments on my channel when the plans for hard reboot were announced that fans were split. Some were as excited as I was to see what JMS did with this show… but others were not so keen. Others asked why would we want it? The original was perfect. If they want to spend money on this why not just redo the effects etc of the original and rerelease it. To them, this plan made no sense at all. I have to admit that however excited I am to see what JMS was thinking I have to agree with these views too though, why mess with perfection?
Other, less thoughtful comments, focused on how the new series would be “woke garbage” and did not care the original creator was going to still be in charge. “Studios can’t do anything good” was the war cry of the anti-broke brigade/ Not an argument I agree with.
But the fans opinion was only focused by the release of The animated movie. Now not everyone liked the animated movie and there was some discontent around it from fans but at least it was original B5… a continuation! In fact the only way we are going to get a continuation of the story now is via animation following so many of the beloved actors have passed away over the years and those surviving are, lets say, more experienced in years now. An animated movie though can be set in any time period and use as many as the original cast as possible while respectfully recasting others. Even A.I. could be used to replicate some of the voices if done with care and respect.
So the fans fears over a reboot of the original series was voiced and heard… by studio executives. My sources tell me that several conversations internally and between studios have gone on over the last 18 months and even though many executives were excited by the prospect of a new series of Babylon 5 and by the pitched ideas JMS put forward… The question was always asked… Will fans buy into this plan?
It seemed in the end that studio bosses just did not have the confidence to pull the trigger and order even a pilot. Some would say that they are finally learning that fans don’t like hard reboots and even though this project was kind of unique, I mean how many times has a show had a hard reboot but with the original creator still in charge, it seemed that studio bosses were not willing to take the risk?
There is however a silver lining. The Road Home did do well and it seems there are plans for more. Even though the animated movie was probably written with at least one eye on his hard reboot plans but either way showed bosses that there is interest in Babylon 5 still.
I can tell you that there are plans for further Babylon 5 animated movies and perhaps even a series that will continue the story… so lets wait and see what happens.
Babylon 5… the last of the Babylon stations… might not be finished just yet.