With Empire of Light behind him now, Sam Mendes has set his sights on his next project—and this time it’s a television series. While HBO Max may be in a state of flux this week, Deadline reports that the pilot for The Franchise has just secured its series regulars, in addition to a pair of recurring cast members. The comedy series, which comes from the mind of Mendes, has a fairly entertaining plot when one considers why things at Warner Bros. Discovery have been so chaotic recently. The Franchise aims to poke fun at superhero franchises.
Billy Magnussen, Jessica Hynes, Darren Goldstein, Lolly Adefope, and Isaac Powell are set to join the cast as series regulars, with Daniel Brühl and Richard E. Grant joining the mix as recurring guest stars. The latter two are no strangers to the superhero industrial complex, with Brühl starring as Baron Helmut Zemo in Captain America: Civil War and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Grant making an appearance as a Loki variant in Loki. At least they’ll be bringing some real-world experience from the trenches of superhero mayhem. Speaking from experience—it’s a lot of freaking work.
The Franchise will follow a hopeful crew that finds themselves trapped inside the “dysfunctional, nonsensical, joyous hellscape” of the superhero franchises. Martin Scorcese might get a real kick out of this one, as Deadline goes on to describe the series with a poignant question: “If and when [the crew] finally make the day, the question they must face—is this Hollywood’s new dawn or cinema’s last stand? Is this a dream factory or a chemical plant?”
While we don’t know who is playing what role on set—are they all stars in the The Franchise‘s cinematic universe? Is someone a grip?—the report did include their character names, which doesn’t give much away. Magnussen is set to play Adam, Hynes will play Steph, Goldstein has been cast as Pat, with Adefope playing Dag, and Powell playing Peter. The guest stars, Brühl and Grant will play Eric and Peter, respectively.
While Mendes may be the mastermind behind this project, Jon Brown, who wrote the pilot, is set to showrun the series, as well as executive produce. Mendes is set to direct, which makes this his first U.S.-based directorial debut, following the critical acclaim of his Oscar-winning 1917. In addition to Brown, The Franchise will be executive produced by Armando Iannucci via his Dundee Productions banner, Mendes via his ALL3Media-backed company Neal Street Productions, alongside Pippa Harris, Nicolas Brown, Julie Pastor, Keith Akushie, Marina Hyde, and Jim Kleverweis.
The Franchise seems to be HBO‘s more comedic answer to series like the ultra-violent Prime Video series, The Boys, which makes it clear that they are openly mocking and poking fun at superhero juggernauts like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what remains of the DC Studios‘ house of cards. Though, with Brühl involved, one might start speculating about what this means for his potential involvement in the MCU‘s Thunderbolts movie. Hopefully, Kevin Fiege doesn’t mind a little lighthearted fun.
There’s no word yet on when or where The Franchise will film.