Quibi keeps shelling out cash for content: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s richly funded startup has ordered a short-form murder-mystery comedy written by and starring former “Saturday Night Live” writers Paula Pell and John Lutz, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video alongside Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.
In “Mapleworth Murders,” Pell (pictured above) is Abigail Mapleworth, a murder-mystery writer who solves homicides in her quaint small town of New Woodstream. Each episode will feature guest victims and suspects in search of answering a bigger question: Why are there so many murders in one small town?
The series is one of dozens of shows — designed for on-the-go mobile viewing in sub-10-minute episodes — coming to Quibi, which is slated to launch in April 2020 at $5 monthly with ads and $8 without ads.
Led by former DreamWorks Animation chief Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi has raised $1 billion from investors including major Hollywood studios and is seeking to raise another $500 million ahead of its spring 2020 launch. The company last week said it had booked $100 million in upfront ad deals from advertisers including Google and Procter & Gamble.
“Mapleworth Murders” is executive produced by Lorne Michaels, Broadway Video’s Andrew Singer, Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker, and co-executive produced by Hilary Marx and Jason Carden. The show is being produced at NBCUniversal’s Universal Television.
Quibi has announced a slew of projects including Steven Spielberg’s “After Dark,” a horror series users will be able to watch only between sundown and sunrise local time. Other partners include Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, Jason Blum, Steven Soderbergh, Catherine Hardwick, Anna Kendrick, Doug Liman, Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media. Quibi also has ordered shows featuring Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Don Cheadle and Idris Elba as well as a remake of MTV’s “Punk’d.”
Quibi’s untested theory is that people will pay to watch premium entertainment, produced specifically for mobile consumption. Its challenge will be to carve out a large and loyal subscriber base, amid stiff competition from free and paid video services and apps. In the first year of launch, Quibi is aiming to deliver 7,000 pieces of content, including scripted and unscripted shows and daily news and lifestyle programming.