The good news is Supergirl is getting a second season and moving to The CW! What changes might we expect to see next year?
Rumors have been pretty hot in the last year about Supergirl’s move to The CW, and yesterday it was confirmed via a variety of sources. In the move, two major changes are expected to happen; first the show is going to move to Vancouver to continue production, and second, there will be an overall reduction of budget. Don’t let those two items scare you though, as it could mean some very good things for the sophomore show.
As far as the budget goes, CBS was not planning on renewing the show without a major budget reduction anyway. Supergirl shot its first season in and around the Los Angeles area, but it was not given a tax credit for season two, because the California Film Commission did not see a big enough economic impact for the area.
The move to Vancouver allows Berlanti Productions to take advantage of lower production costs and tax incentives. According to the Creative B.C. website, “there is no limit on the PSTC that may be claimed on a particular production and there is no limit that a corporation or group of corporations can claim.” For the basic tax credit, the production saves 28% on income and labor costs (beginning October 1st), in addition to helping reduce overall costs. Since there is no limit on the number of tax credits, Berlanti Productions can apply this credit to Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and now Supergirl.
Production in Vancouver, which is B.C.’s largest city, saw a 40% surge last year over 2014 — fueled by Deadpool and more than two dozen other feature films, 158 commercials and 309 TV episodes. With a total of 353 productions last year and 1,518 filming days, Vancouver is the No. 3 production hub in North America after Los Angeles and New York City. – Deadline.com
Additionally, because of guild deals with The CW and CBS, rates and salaries paid to cast and crew are also reduced. This means some actors could see a reduction in pay (specifically day rate) and since the crew is B.C. based, the crew rates should drop as well. If you pay close attention to the closing credits, many of the post production houses that work on The Flash and Arrow, have also been working with Supergirl, so hopefully streamlining some of the effects and workflow will save a few pennies here and there as well.
Finally, because of this move to The CW, CBS has given up all rights to the series, which means it is all in hands of Warner Bros., the other half owner of The CW network. Because Supergirl (and thus Superman) are part of the bigger merchandising, licensing, and rights holders discussion, WB could easily use the show as a lost leader to keep merchandising alive. The DC Super Hero Girls lines has exploded off the toy shelves, and Supergirl, the television series, may be playing a role in that toy line success.
HALF OF A SEASON
With a reported budget of $3 million per episode with only 7 million viewers watching each week, we might also expect to see some change in the length of the season. Though I love DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the 16-episode show did drag in a few places, and I have doubts it could handle a full season without some serious budget cuts as well. Currently, IMDB lists 10 episodes for next season, and if that is indeed the case, why not do the same thing with Supergirl?
Though I have long complained about short seasons that run anywhere from six to fifteen episodes, the shorter season does work as it allows the creators to tell a concise and tight story without the need to pad endlessly to make it to May. And, quite frankly, I’d rather see ten really good episodes of Legends of Tomorrow rather than 23 so-so episodes. In the same vein, I’d rather have thirteen really good episodes of Supergirl each year, than no Supergirl at all. Since both shows have been rumored to have near the same budget, it might be easier for the network to make this work with two half seasons. It worked for two seasons with ABC’s Agent Carter (now cancelled), and it could work for the CW.
THE COMIC BOOK NETWORK
What if The CW took the challenge to bring high quality, full season, comic book based television to fans around the world? Certainly now that Supergirl is at the CW, it means there is the potential for a lot more crossover episodes, and as the network continues to grow its comic book properties, it kind of looks like they are developing their own television version of the Justice League!
I could see a fall schedule looking something like this:
Legends of Tomorrow
Yes, that’s right, if The CW really wanted to become the network of DC Comics, it would also bring back Constantine as a full run series. Pair it with the billionth season of Supernatural, and Friday night could easily become “The CW Friday Fright Night Event.” Let’s also not forget that Locke & Key is going back into production in hopes of finding a distributor. FOX passed the first time, so they are probably not likely to pick it up as part of their run, so The CW could definitely make a play for the show and work it into the schedule – Wednesday nights would be okay by me.
I’m okay with a network that primarily caters to comic book fans in prime time, and there is still plenty of room in the schedule for the network’s other content.
Of course there is always a downside of the budget and relocation changes that will happen with Supergirl. There could be a few cast members that won’t make the change to go north, and others that may not like pay cuts, which could cause many exits from the show. While I like my programming layout, Monday nights are tricky because that runs right up against Monday Night Football, something that could cause Supergirl ratings to become so skewed that the show gets an early cancellation. I don’t think that would happen, only because Supergirl and Riverdale are both going to attract a much younger audience than what would typically watch Monday Night Football, but the juggernaut of Monday night entertainment could put a squeeze on potential advertising revenue.
When one weighs the pros and cons of the big Supergirl news, it looks like there are more potential positives than negatives in this equation. Supergirl may not have worked perfectly at CBS, but now that it is at The CW, the comic book property has more friends surrounding it than ever before. We won’t know if any of my thoughts will play out as fact until the network upfronts and programming schedules are released, but until then, there is plenty to think about and discuss.