The film and television landscape has shifted in two huge ways. Streaming and Disney's buying spree. The content providers that haven't been bought by Disney need their own streaming service and big franchises to compete. It now appears that NBC Universal is going to fully tap the potential of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. With lofty goals of having an MCU and Star Wars mega profit center? Why not? It wouldn't be the first time.
In 1978 Battlestar Galactica was created to tap into the cultural phenomenon that was Star Wars. Originally conceived as a mini-series with TV movies to follow. The ABC television network liked what they were seeing and pressed for a full TV series. Nearly 70 million people tuned in to the premier 3 hour episode. While Battlestar Galactica couldn't maintain 70 million tuning in weekly it's viewership numbers were good enough to guarantee a second season. Then something surprising happened, ABC canceled it after one season. The show didn't have the typical budget. The FX, sets, costumes and ensemble cast were expensive. A letter writing campaign would spawn the retooled and much unloved Galactica 1980 it was canceled after 10 episodes. An edited version of the premier episode was shown in movie theaters in 1979. The episodes of the show were edited together shown as tele-movies in various markets of North America and Europe. Tie in toys, books, model kits, comic books, trading cards, lunch boxes and glasses from Burger King were everywhere. The fun characters and rich universe of Battlestar Galactica were all the rage while we waited for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Throughout the 1990s there were rumors of Battlestar Galactica returning in some form, be it big screen or small. No one got Universal to open the check book.
At the turn of the century the biggest names in Hollywood were Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto. The FOX TV network gave the greenlight to Tom DeSanto's Battlestar Galactica with Bryan Singer to direct the first few hours. Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict of the original show would return with young new actors starring as the hot-shot Viper pilots. FOX wanted to market the show as directed by Bryan Singer. When the September 11th attacks happened travel came to a stand still. Singer's small window to direct the first episode had quickly closed. While interior sets of the Galactica and two full size Viper mock-ups had been built FOX pulled the plug, uninterested in moving forward without Bryan Singer.
Universal's television division still wanted to develop the property and had it's own network the Sci-Fi Channel to air it on. Star Trek veteran writer Ron Moore and television producer David Eick were brought on to develop the 2003 Battlestar Galactica mini-series that would serve as a backdoor pilot for a full series. The 2004-2009 Battlestar Galactica was a consistent critic's favorite through out it's run. It upended the structure and narrative of the television space opera attracting viewers who normally eschew the science fiction genre. The Ron Moore show still has an impassioned fanbase that purchases new show related merchandise today.
Several years ago Universal announced a Battlestar Galactica film for cinemas after having acquired the film rights from the estate of Glen A Larson, the Battlestar Galactica universe creator. Over the years various producers and writers had been attached to the project. Only for nothing to actually happen. September of 2019 Peacock was announced. This new streaming service from NBC Universal would dust off old titles it owns and mine them for new content. Sam Esmail was announced to produce a new Battlestar Galactica for Peacock. A few days later in a tweet Esmail said his show was not a reboot but will be a story in the Ron Moore universe. In the flurry of articles and blog posts covering the news occasionally some writer would mention the Battlestar Galactica film in development. I took this to be the result of lazy writers not exercising due diligence. Then DJ Rivera at We Got This Covered comes along clearly stating the Battlestar Galactica movie is still on. Not just rehashing old news but that producers are currently casting the roles of Adama and Starbuck.
Back in the day a property was television or film but usually not both at the same time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed all that. The MCU has the biggest budget films breaking box office records while others Marvel characters are engaging on the small screens at home. Star Wars films continue while the Mandalorian is off to great success on TV. Star Trek has had a long history co-existing with film and television productions at the same time. For all the accolades the 2004 Battlestar Galactica achieved it was never hugely popular. It ran on a smaller TV network with less reach. It suffered from Toxic Fandom, with fans of the original show and the new at each others throats. Executives had a hard time determining value of those binge-watching the show on iTunes. Streaming was at it's infancy. Universal always wanted a bigger audience. If Sam Esmail is going to base his story on some other element of the Ron Moore universe. Then it's likely to be TV-MA and not likely a story happening on a battlestar named Galactica. This leaves room for a big budget film rebooting the Galactica story to a wider PG-13 audience. Lunching a new sci-fi action franchise, with all the merch that comes with it.
I've long had doubts a movie will happen but DJ Rivera apparently has sources that have been right before. Will it be successful? Way to early to say. One thing for sure Andrew Fullen won't be pleased.