Armando Iannucci & Sam Mendes Set HBO Comedy Pilot ‘The Franchise’ About Superhero Movie-Making

Armando Iannucci & Sam Mendes Set HBO Comedy Pilot ‘The Franchise’ About Superhero Movie-Making

Armando Iannucci is staying in business with HBO and is teaming up with Sam Mendes for the ride.


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The Veep and Avenue 5 creator and Skyfall director have scored a pilot order for comedy The Franchise at the premium cable network.

The half-hour project takes a wry look at superhero movie-making. It follows a hopeful crew trapped inside the dysfunctional, nonsensical, joyous hellscape of franchise superhero movie-making. If and when they 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?

It comes after Deadline revealed that Iannucci’s space voyage comedy Avenue 5 may be coming to an end with its upcoming second season.

The Franchise will be exec produced by Iannucci, via his Dundee Productions banner, and Mendes, via his All3Media-backed production company Neal Street Productions. Mendes will also direct.

Jon Brown, a writer on Avenue 5 and writer/exec producer on Succession, will serve as showrunner, writer and exec producer.

Marina Hyde, who writes a cutting column in The Guardian newspaper, will write and exec produce alongside Keith Akushie, a co-exec producer and writer for season two of Avenue 5.

Neal Street’s Pippa Harris, Nicolas Brown and Julie Pastor will also exec produce.

The pilot story was by Brown, Akushie and Iannucci and the pilot was written by Brown and Akushie.

Earlier this year, Iannucci made his comic book debut with a story for Spider-Man’s 60th Anniversary in Amazing Fantasy #1000.

American Beauty director Mendes, who directed two James Bond films – Skyfall and Spectre as well as 1917, has produced series including Showtime’s Penny Dreadful and Britannia, which aired on Epix in the U.S. In 2012, revealed that he was once approached to direct Marvel’s The Avengers. 

Iannucci is represented by Lucy Fairney at PBJ Management and Chris Simonian, Mendes and Neal Street are represented by CAA and Matt Johnson and Wendy Kirk at JSSK, Brown is represented by UTA, Curtis Brown and PJ Shapiro and Greg Slewett of Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole, Akushie is represented by UTA and Curtis Brown and Hyde is represented by Amanda Davis at Curtis Brown and Kimberly Jaime and Jeffrey Hynick at Jackoway Austen.