Champagne corks should be popping: “six seasons and a movie” may not be the grimmest timeline after all. Peacock has greenlit a film adaptation of Dan Harmon’s comedy “Community,” which will reunite Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash and Ken Jeong to catch up with their Greendale neighbors in the years following the series’ cancellation in 2015.
On Friday, Peacock and Sony Pictures TV announced that they had given the movie the go-ahead. They did not reveal the specifics of the negotiations that led to Peacock’s success in securing the film but they did call them “heavily competitive.” As part of the deal, Peacock has also acquired non-exclusive rights to the full six-season “Community” library which can also be found on Netflix and Hulu.
Harmon, who also created “Community,” served as an executive producer and writer for the film alongside Andrew Guest. In addition to Russ Krasnoff and Gary Foster, McHale takes on the role of executive producer. Aside from Sony Pictures TV, the show is also produced by Universal Studio Group’s Universal Television label. (“Community” aired on NBC for five out of its six seasons, and Universal TV was one of the show’s production companies alongside studio lead Sony.)
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According to Susan Rovner, chairman, entertainment content, NBC Universal Television and Streaming, “‘Six seasons and a movie started out as a cheeky line from the early seasons of ‘Community and quickly ignited a passionate fan movement for this iconic, hilarious and cool (cool, cool) NBC comedy.”
15 years later, we’re thrilled to finally be able to bring fans the film they’ve been waiting for and we can’t wait to team up with Dan Harmon, Andrew Guest, Joel McHale, Sony and our partners at UTV to bring the next chapter in this epic comedy to Peacock audiences.
No director has been announced nor is a release date for the film. Whether or not Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover, two of the show’s most integral cast members, will make an appearance (even if only for a cameo) is also unknown. (Chevy Chase, who had a falling out with the show and whose character ultimately died, is probably not coming back.)
During its original run from 2009 to 2015, “Community” went through a lot of ups and downs. It premiered on NBC in the fall of 2009 and has been on the verge of cancellation ever since. Initially marketed as a comedy about a group of strangers who form a bond while taking a course together at a community college, the show evolved into an experiment in deconstructing the sitcom form, winning praise and a dedicated fan base with its clever meta jokes, unique characters and clever takes on TV tropes.
Together with Abed Nadir (Pudi), Britta Perry (Jacobs), Annie Edison (Brie), Shirley Bennett (Brown), Troy Barnes (Glover), Pierce Hawthorne (Chase), teacher-turned-student Ben Chang (Jeong) and Greendale Dean Craig Pelton (McHale), washed-up lawyer Jeff Winger (as portrayed by McHale) as the de facto leader of the group (Rash). John Oliver, Jonathan Banks, Paget Brewster and Keith David are just a few of the other actors who had significant roles in the show.
Since “Community” wasn’t attracting a large enough audience in its third season, NBC and Sony decided to replace Harmon with new executive producers. In spite of Season 4’s (aka the “gas leak season”) polarizing impact on viewers, Harmon was eventually brought back to the show after McHale and the rest of the cast lobbied hard in his favor.
However, at the conclusion of its fifth season, NBC finally canceled “Community” after years of avoiding the decision. But it didn’t end there. Sony had originally proposed Season 6 to both Hulu and Crackle, its sister ad-supported streaming service at the time. There was no viable business model for any of those platforms. Then Yahoo! Screen came along and committed to 13 episodes at the $2 million per episode price.
Good for “Community,” but not for Yahoo!, which saw its investment in the show far exceed any revenue. After 110 episodes over six seasons, Yahoo! Screen and “Community” officially called it quits after Season 6.
It was only because of that agreement that the show’s tongue-in-cheek prediction of “six seasons and a movie” came true. Paradigms of Human Memory” from Season 2 is the first time Abed (Pudi) says that.
Jason Clodfelter, co-president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, said, “‘Community’ was light years ahead of its time when it premiered on NBC in 2009, and we are thrilled to once again visit the brilliant minds of Dan Harmon, Andrew Guest, and this impeccable cast.” We owe a debt of gratitude to Peacock, our collaborators at UTV and the legions of devoted viewers who have supported this groundbreaking series.
“This franchise is the very definition of community,” Erin Underhill, president of Universal TV, said. We can’t wait to reunite the gang and see where this story takes these lovable characters.
During its run on NBC, “Community” was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for outstanding individual achievement in animation and received the award. The show also inspired a devoted fan base and even spawned a fan-organized convention. Cast members from “Community” have, of course, gone on to other successful endeavors since the show’s cancellation.
Many fans have been hoping for a movie adaptation of “Community” ever since the series ended. A ‘Community’ movie, possibly directed by Justin Lin or Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (all of whom helmed episodes of the series), was predicted in 2014 by then-Sony Pictures Television programming president Zack Van Amburg before the sixth season had even premiered on Yahoo! Screen. At the time, he said, “I personally have had those conversations.”
In 2020, the cast (minus Chase) gathered for a table read and Q&A to benefit Frontline Foods and José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen. They skirted the question of making a movie but hinted that they would be interested if a script were written. (Even Donald Glover gave the impression that he was game.)
While watching the episodes now, Harmon is hit by the realization that “first of all, my writers were amazing and probably didn’t get rewarded for it as much as maybe I thought the job was,” as he put it at the time. But secondly… the entire cast is like a basketball machine that slam dunks everything you throw at them. We’ve all had enough personal success to know that things can’t improve any further.
However, fans’ hopes that the film would be made never became more than that. Not until last month. It was then that Harmon revealed to Newsweek that a script had been written. Harmon told Newsweek, “There is an outline for it.” A product has been developed and is being advertised to the general public. That, I suppose, is how genuine it is.
However, Harmon was hesitant to further inflame fans, saying, “That’s probably enough that’ll make people mad when nothing a year from now.” Even so, that doesn’t guarantee that there will be a film released tomorrow. To put it another way: “It means there will be one, without a doubt.”
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