A Turner-owned content studio known for minting Internet-friendly videos is making significant headway in TV.
Super Deluxe, an irreverent digital brand that started more than two years ago, has landed its biggest series commitment, with Netflix ordering 10 episodes of supernatural drama “Chambers.” Stephen Gaghan (“Traffic”) is attached to executive produce.
“Chambers” unravels the mystery of a young heart attack survivor in Arizona whose life gets more complicated as she learns the truth about the donor whose heart she received. The series was written by Leah Rachel, and Akela Cooper (“Marvel’s Luke Cage”) is attached as showrunner.
Gaghan will also executive produce with Super Deluxe a series adaptation of the 1985 indie sensation “My Beautiful Laundrette,” with Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) attached to star and co-write. No deal has been finalized with a buyer for the series.
Also executive producing is Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”) and Hanif Kureishi (the original “Laundrette”). The serialization of “Laundrette” will be based on the Oscar-nominated 1985 indie film of the same name starring Daniel Day-Lewis about a Pakistani Briton and his white boyfriend who run a laundromat in London.
The projects mark quite a leap forward for the studio, best known as a factory for irreverent comedic properties, from the singing animated characters in “Boss Bitch” to a live telenovela that Facebook dared to air. Now they, and many of Super Deluxe’s roster of stars who blossomed on social media — Joanne the Scammer, Philip Burgers and Vic Berger— are being groomed to make the jump from short-form to TV series.
That eventuality was the plan from the start for Super Deluxe president and founder Wolfgang Hammer, who sought a marketing base for the 45 million U.S. millennials the brand currently reaches monthly. “The idea was to be the first entertainment company to develop and produce long-form TV hours and half hours, scripted and unscripted, as well as having a channel presence on the Internet,” says Hammer, who operates independently of Turner but reports to its CEO, Kevin Reilly. “Both of those [goals] inform one another.”
Hammer will have seven shows on the air at this time next year — maybe more if its hot streak continues. Super Deluxe has also sold interactive game show “Popular Opinion” to Facebook’s Watch platform and will produce a late-night block for sibling unit TBS. Visitors to the Sundance Film Festival can get a glimpse later this month of other Super Deluxe properties getting the long-form treatment, with two productions lined up for the Indie Episodic showcase: “This Close,” a dramedy previously known as “The Chances,” starring two deaf comedians, which will premiere on AMC-owned streaming service Sundance Now, and scripted comedy featuring Burgers, “The Passage,” which has yet to find a buyer.
The momentum couldn’t come at a better time: Super Deluxe finds itself at something of a crossroads. Last fall, Turner executives were preparing pitch materials to lobby the new AT&T regime for additional funding for the digital unit; the IP incubated at Super Deluxe is a natural fit with the telco’s vision of turning smart phones into the central entertainment platform for young consumers. Turner had also been preparing to experiment with subscription-pricing options for Super Deluxe. All of that has been put on hold while AT&T fights the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
Hammer wouldn’t comment on such matters, saying his aim is to keep the focus squarely on “making Super Deluxe the most relevant youth entertainment brand in the country. Whoever ends up being the owner,” he adds, “I think will make great use of that.”
Rachel is repped by WME, Anonymous and lawyer Greg Slewett of Bloom Hergott. Gaghan is repped by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kalle. Cooper is repped by ICM Partners, Rise Management, and attorney Gregg Gellman.