Sci-Fi Channel Finds Sanctuary for All

The cult hit series Sanctuary will make the leap from the web to TV, as it was picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel today. The network greenlit the production of 13 episodes based on the award-winning drama, and will shoot a new two-hour premiere for the series. Stage 3 Media, which produces the series, will retain ownership of the intellectual property, with Sci-Fi just licensing and distributing the show.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

“We were blown away by the level of quality they have been able to achieve on a Web budget,” Sci Fi exec VP original programming Mark Stern said. “We loved the world they’d created, and we particularly loved their approach, since we had been looking for a way to apply the virtual-set CGI environment from films like ‘300’ and ‘Sin City’ to a television series.”

The TV version will use much of the footage from the original web series, though the effects will be tweaked so they look better on a TV screen.

This isn’t quite the rags-to-riches story so often associated with web-to-TV phenoms. The team behind it was associated with Stargate: SG-1 and it cost $4 million to produce the 135-minute Sanctuary. When I spoke with series creator Damian Kindle last year, he was a believer that the series was multi-platform and that the web wouldn’t replace television. That sentiment was reaffirmed on the Sanctuary blog today:

Nobody should be shocked, we’ve been pretty open about the fact that TV has always been in the cards for a long time now. We’ve always been firm believers in a multi-format platform of distribution so this is simply the next step in that plan.

The WGA strike won’t affect the TV production because the series is based in Canada. And as The Hollywood Reporter notes, Sci-Fi’s decision to skip a pilot fits with recent mandates from NBC Universal head Jeff Zucker to go straight into series production. This is the second web series picked up by an NBC Universal company, quarterlife will debut on NBC at the end of February.