As the availability of television platforms continues to expand, Sony Pictures ushered in a new era in content distribution Monday evening with the premiere of “Powers,” the first live-action scripted series from the studio’s PlayStation division.
The cast of the history-making skein, including Sharlto Copley, Susan Heyward, Adam Godley and Michelle Forbes, joined exec producers and co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming at the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City to celebrate the show’s launch. The drama series follows two homicide detectives, played by Copley and Heyward, who are assigned to investigate murder cases involving people with superhuman abilities, known as Powers.
For Bendis and Oeming, the premiere marked the climax of a 15-year journey to bring the adaptation of their comic book from script to screen.
“Literally it feels like our kid has grown up and is graduating, and we’re here having a party for it,” Oeming told Variety of the lengthy development process. “It was just us alone in a room making this for a long time,” Bendis added, alluding to the magnitude of the premiere. “We invented it in our basements and now here we are with all of this. Surreal is, I think, the word we’re looking for.”
The producers also conveyed their excitement about the new format for their show, explaining that services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have made viewers more comfortable with streaming series in the years leading up to the release of “Powers.”
“The biggest worry I had was people understanding that it’s really a television show, and not a puppet show me and Mike were making in our basement or something,” noted Bendis, to which Oeming added, “There’s something really exciting about being the first (to do) something.”
Shawn Layden, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, confessed that he had butterflies in his stomach leading up to the premiere, as “Powers” marks a huge step in PlayStation’s 20-year trajectory. Layden said he is confident that this series is a good fit to introduce PlayStation users to a new source of content.
“The ‘Powers’ series has shown itself to have a strong resonance with the key gamer audience that we thrive with at PlayStation,” Layden explained. “It’s kind of an irreverent take on the superhero pathos and how that collides with the real world. It’s compelling content, and we think this format, in a television series episodic way, really speaks to where our game audience is.”
Given the current TV landscape, Layden told Variety that original programming is “a must-do” in order to leverage the power of the Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Television and Sony Computer Entertainment conglomerate.
“Everybody who’s in the entertainment field is looking for original content because that’s the differentiator between one service versus another,” Layden said, hinting that more original content is likely to follow down the line. “I think original programming is definitely going to be one of the weapons in our arsenal as we go forward as a full-blooded entertainment system.”
For his part, Copley said the show’s innovative format is simply the product of the evolution of the industry as a whole, as well as an indication of what the future of TV will look like.
“I loved the idea that it was for a new platform. I think the business is changing,” Copley said. “This is just the first of a lot more stuff to come.”
Though the pressure of working on PlayStation’s first original series may seem daunting, Godley said the high stakes actually served as a driving force for the cast.
“As an actor, as a character, that’s what you want — really high stakes,” Godley said. “It’s exciting, and it motivates your character and it motivates the writing in a series. We all felt that (while) making it. At every moment, the stakes were as high as we could make them, so that was fun.”
Following a screening of the first episode of “Powers,” guests made their way to a nearby soundstage where the police-themed after-party awaited. The soiree space featured “wanted” posters, graffiti-covered backdrops and a police car with a flashing siren as attendees enjoyed mini sliders, French fries and pork sandwiches, followed by coffee and donuts for dessert.
Other guests in attendance at the premiere included “The Goldbergs” star Jeff Garlin, “Outlander” actress Lotte Verbeek and Jack Falahee of “How to Get Away With Murder.”
The first three episodes of “Powers” will be available via PlayStation on March 10, and new episodes will debut each Tuesday. Viewers will be able to access the first episode for free at PlayStation.com/Powers. PlayStation Plus members can watch the full 10-episode season for free, and individual episodes will also be sold on the PlayStation Store. The first episode is also available on YouTube — watch below:
(Pictured: Actors Sharlto Copley, Michelle Forbes, Susan Heyward and Logan Browning at the series premiere of Sony Television’s “Powers” at Sony Pictures Studios)