Netflix’s ‘Arrested Development’ May Be Movie Precursor

“Arrested Development,” the comedy TV show canceled in 2006 by Fox after three seasons and being revived this year by Netflix Inc. (NFLX), will set up a storyline in its new series that could form the basis of a movie.

“This isn’t season four,” Jason Bateman, a star of the program, told reporters at a television critics’ conference in Pasadena, California, yesterday. “Hopefully this is act one of what becomes a feature film.”

Bringing back “Arrested Development” is central to Netflix’s strategy to attract new subscribers and retain its current customers with exclusive programming. The online streaming service is also adding the Ricky Gervais comedy show “Derek,” the drama “Hemlock Grove” from horror movie producer Eli Roth and the political drama “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey.

Los Gatos, California-based Netflix plans to release all 14 episodes of the new series at the same time in May, said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, at the event.

Mitch Hurwitz, the creator of “Arrested Development,” would only say at the conference that the new plot revolves around a single incident. Each episode will show how the incident is viewed by the different characters, played by Michael Cera, Will Arnett, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter and Bateman.

International Rights

News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox holds the international rights to the new episodes, as well as for producing a potential movie, said Sarandos. That may complicate efforts to produce a movie based on the series, he said.

With the first three seasons of “Arrested Development” already available on Netflix, Sarandos said the program has built a following in the 40 markets where the streaming service is available.

“It’s not always easy for comedies to translate,” Sarandos said. “‘Arrested Development’ is a rare bird.”

Netflix plans to market the return of “Arrested Development” in print publications and billboards, Sarandos said. Netflix, one of the biggest online advertisers, also plans to alert viewers on its website to the program, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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