In 2006, the HBO western series Deadwood went off the air after three seasons and 36 episodes. The show was a critical smash success, picking up 28 Emmy Award nominations, winning eight of those awards, and taking home a Golden Globe. Despite that success, HBO opted not to pick up the options of some of the actors after the third season, effectively canceling it.
Due to the show’s premature ending, HBO and creator David Milch both agreed to make two two-hour television films in lieu of a final season, which would have wrapped up the stories of Deadwood residents like Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), and Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe). A year later, both sides were still hopeful of the films getting done but no progress had been made. By October 2007, it was noted that the sets had been dismantled, dashing hopes of ever seeing those films. Over the next few years, actors from the show professed it to be “dead.” In March 2012, Milch said in an interview that he didn’t think the movies would ever get made, stating “We got really close about a year ago. Never say never, but it doesn’t look that way.”
In 2015, however, word leaked that Milch had submitted a script for a two-hour Deadwood movie to HBO. Since then, people have been a bit more hopeful of a finale for the gone-too-soon series and there was even a hopeful alarm back in 2016. And finally, on Wednesday, HBO announced it is officially moving forward with the Deadwood movie.
HBO programming president Casey Bloys made the announcement at the TCA summer press tour. “All of these people worked hard to get this together,” Bloys said. “It’s been a logistics nightmare getting all the cast members’ schedules together, but we are there. It is greenlit.”
The plan is to begin shooting in October with the movie airing on HBO in spring 2019, though that date is not set in stone. Game of Thrones episodic director Dan Minahan is on board to direct the film.
Bloys noted that one of the biggest stumbling blocks was scheduling all of the principal actors and crew, calling it a “logistical nightmare.” McShane, Olyphant, Molly Parker, and John Hawkes are just some of the hard-working actors involved in the show who also have various projects going on at any given time.
The movie will have to account for a few issues, chiefly that Powers Boothe died last year, which means his Cy Tolliver character will have to be written out or around. The show also has to contend with actual history since it’s based on a real town with characters based on real people. There’s only so much actual history you can rewrite. While the show has taken dramatic license with some characters and events, it has tried to remain true to the events that marked the actual town of Deadwood. We’ll see what they do with that in the movie.