By Sahil Patel
Fox passed on “Delirium,” a TV series based on the bestselling young-adult novel from Lauren Oliver, in 2013. But now the pilot for the sci-fi drama, which stars Emma Roberts and Daren Kagasoff, is getting a second life on Hulu.
In partnership with WIGS, the digital studio co-founded by filmmakers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia, Fox will present the unaired pilot on Hulu for a limited time. It’s the confluence of multiple existing relationships with all parties involved — Hulu and Fox are owned by 21st Century Fox, while Fox Broadcasting has a marketing and distribution partnership with WIGS.
“Delirium” is set in a dystopian future where love is outlawed, and people are forced to take a drug to ensure that the emotion stays dormant. The pilot for the drama was actually directed by Garcia, though he says that wasn’t the only reason Fox and WIGS decided to release the pilot on Hulu.
Garcia would “hate to see the pilot go to waste,” he admits, but also points out how “Delirium” fits the WIGS brand, which focuses on high-quality, scripted dramas with a female lead.
And when it comes to WIGS, the studio wants to be platform-agnostic. While starting out as a YouTube-funded channel, WIGS later inked a distribution deal with Hulu, bringing longer versions of its scripted series to the streaming service. “Ideologically, we think all platforms are created equally,” says Garcia. “They might not be completely equal yet — but they are certainly on their way. So why not play it here, if it can’t play somewhere else?”
Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, FOX’s head of multi-platform programming, echoes that sentiment. When asked why the network is choosing to air an unaired pilot on Hulu, he responds with “why not?” “We have a fully-finished piece of material that’s great. There wasn’t room for it on the air at the time, but because it has been made, and we do believe it’s a great piece of work, it made sense to allow consumers to see what was made.”
It also helps that the series is based on an incredibly popular book trilogy for young adults.
That said, the “Delirium” pilot will only be available on Hulu for 24 days, beginning today, June 20. Fox and WIGS received special permission from The Chernin Group, which holds the rights to the program.
But it begs the question: If “Delirium” turns into a special hit on Hulu, will that breathe new life to the project?
Van Rensselaer cautions against reading too much into it, right now. There’s a chance, he says, but “I don’t think we are ready to make any big conclusions yet. That’s not the reason we are putting it up; we see it more as a short-term fun thing to do for fans of WIGS and the books.”
“I think it will be a first-class problem if it takes off and we see a huge amount of appetite,” he continues. “If that happens, I think the folks at Fox, Chernin, and maybe even the studio side of Fox, could see that there is a built-in appetite and try to figure out where to take [the project] from there.”
As for future unaired pilots, Van Rensselaer also admits that there’s a “possibility” Fox puts those up on digital. “The philosophy remains one that says: You’ve made something, instead of throwing it in the garbage, why not provide some kind of premiere?”