HBO Orders Superhero Movie-Making Comedy Pilot

HBO has ordered a comedy pilot about the making of a superhero movie, variety has learned.

The half-hour pilot is titled “The Franchise.” It follows a hopeful crew trapped inside the dysfunctional, nonsense, joyous hellscape of franchise superhero movie-making. If and when they finally make the day, the question they must face — is this Hollywood’s new dawn or cinema’s last stand? Is this a dream factory or a chemical plant?

According to an individual with knowledge of the project, Sam Mendes came up with the original idea for the show. The pilot story was written by Jon Brown, Keith Akushie and Armando Iannucci, with Brown and Akushie writing the pilot. Brown will also serve as writer, executive producer, and showrunner, with Akushie executive producing and writing. Marina Hyde is attached as a writer and executive producer. Iannucci will executive produce through Dundee Productions. Mendes is attached to direct the pilot and will executive produce through Neal Street Productions. Pippa Harris, Nicolas Brown, and Julie Pastor of Neal Street will also executive produce.

Iannucci is best known to American audiences for creating the critically-acclaimed HBO political satire “Veep,” which was an American adaptation of Iannucci’s British sitcom “The Thick of It.” The series was a major awards player during its run, including winning the Emmy for best comedy series three years in a row. Iannucci, who is currently under an overall deal with HBO, also created the premium cabler’s comedy series “Avenue 5.”

He is repped by PBJ Management and Chris Simonian

The pilot will mark the first time Mendes has directed for television, though he has executive produced several TV shows in the past. Mendes won the Academy Award for best director for the movie “American Beauty.” He was nominated in the same category in 2019 for the war film “1917,” also earning nominations for best picture and best original screenplay. His other directing credits include the James Bond films “Spectre” and “Skyfall,” “Road to Perdition,” “Jarhead,” and “Revolutionary Road.”

He and Neal Street are repped by CAA and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole LLP.

Brown previously worked with Iannucci on “Veep” as well as on “Avenue 5.” He is also an executive producer on HBO’s hit series “Succession,” which is prepping its fourth season. He is also the creator of the British series “Dead Pixels.” He is repped by UTA, Curtis Brown and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole LLP.

Akushie’s past credits also include “Avenue 5” as well as co-writing the feature “The Festival” and creating the series “Siblings.” He’s repped by UTA and Curtis Brown. Hyde is repped by Curtis Brown and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

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