Fox recently blamed the delay of its long-awaited “Terra Nova” series on visual effects that “required more time to be realized.” At least, that was the official explanation.
Of course, the situation is slightly more complicated than Fox is willing to admit. As of December, the studio lacked sufficient footage to create even a two-hour opening episode.
“There was a massive underestimation of what they had and how it would cut together,” an industry source told The Hollywood Reporter.
But a Fox spokesperson insisted footage delays were not atypical for a show with extensive action sequences and noted that sending out “incomplete” press screeners “was not the way to build excitement for this show in which we all have a significant investment.”
While such an explanation certainly sounds reasonable, all is clearly not well in the world of Terra Nova.
For example, the cost of the opening episode is currently estimated at $10 million-$20 million, making it the most expensive broadcast pilot ever.
Then there are the writers, or lack thereof. A three-page outline was penned by Kelly Marcel, which was supposed to be turned into a proper script by Craig Silverstein. But Silverstein ditched the project to develop Nikita.
Fox then hired 24 veteran Brannon Braga, who brought on David Fury and Jon Cassar, with screenwriter Allan Loeb jumping on board to do a rewrite. However, the initial script was considered too lengthy to fit into an hour time slot, leaving the studio unsure whether to cut or expand the pilot.
Eventually, the two-hour option was chosen, prompting Fox to lay off most of the show’s regular writing staff – as series production was delayed until the two hours were “in the can.”
But even after weeks of shooting in Australia, there still wasn’t enough material for a two-hour pilot, leading certain project bigwigs to blame director Alex Graves and Brannon Braga for the failure. To help save the pilot, Fox recruited X-Files veteran and editor Ken Horton.
Under Horton’s tutelage, the first hour is supposedly “much improved,” despite the fact that the editor was forced to “borrow” material from the second episode.
As one industry insider notes, the troubled pilot raises definite questions about the rest of the series, which has yet to be written or filmed.
“[Yes], the [first] two hours could be great… and then they have to deliver every week.”
So let’s hope Fox doesn’t drop the ball on this one. For what it’s worth, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.