After a series adaptation of their movie Fargo became a success, the Coen Brothers are ready to create their own project for television.
Some might think that the Coen Brothers have already ventured from feature films into television with their 1996 film Fargo being adapted into two successful and critically acclaimed seasons on FX. But Fargo the TV series isn’t a Coen Brothers production, so much as a project to which they gave their blessing. Noah Hawley is the man in charge there.
But Joel and Ethan Coen are apparently interested in exploring television, which would seem to be an ideal fit for the quirky worlds they create, populated with all sorts of unusual characters, and fueled by funny and dark storylines. Adapting one of their previous films for a TV series just wasn’t territory they wanted to navigate. Now, however, it appears that the brothers have found the right idea for the small screen.
As reported by Variety‘s Justin Kroll, the Coen Brothers are developing a limited series Western titled The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Westerns are definitely in their wheelhouse, as demonstrated by True Grit, more of a traditional Western, and No Country for Old Men, which took more of a modern spin on the genre. Story details on the project aren’t yet known, so when the series will take place hasn’t been revealed, but the Coen Brothers will direct each of the installments.
Apparently, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs may also have a theatrical tie-in, though it’s not yet clear whether a movie would be part of the series, take place in the same setting, involve cameos from certain characters, or some other link that hasn’t yet been revealed. But the project is reportedly going to be an anthology series that will involve six different storylines. One of those could end up being a theatrical film.
Combining TV and theatrical products would seem to be a tricky venture, as it can’t be assumed that TV audiences will go to theaters, nor theatrical audiences continuing the story on television. (Marvel has sort of flirted with that concept with its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. program, as has Lucasfilm with its Star Wars: Rebels animated series. But there haven’t really been direct ties in terms of story.) Kroll points out that the adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series had similar plans to produce content for theatrical and television release, but those were eventually scuttled and The Dark Tower will simply be a feature film.
The Coen Brothers are teaming up with Annapurna Television on the production. Annapurna Pictures has previously been involved almost entirely in film production, making such movies as Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher, American Hustle and Sausage Party. But the company created a television division last year. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will be one of Annapurna’s first television ventures, along with an adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel Today Will Be Different, starring Julia Roberts.
As of yet, the Coen Brothers’ project isn’t attached to a TV studio or network. It seems likely that Annapurna will solicit bids once development is further along (perhaps after an episode has been filmed).