Surprise: CW Prez downplays potential for a ‘Battle Royale’ TV series

A CW series based on the ultra-violent Japanese novel “Battle Royale”? Not so fast, says network president Mark Pedowitz.

“It”s amazing what happens when you have just a phone call and a discussion,” said Pedowitz during his executive session at today’s TCAs, in reference to an LA Times report last week that claimed the network was in talks to acquire the property. “We”d love to do it. Hopefully, we”ll be able to make a deal with the producers, and we”ll see where it goes. But at this point in time, it”s just a discussion for development.”

Written by Koushun Takami and first published in 1999, “Battle Royale” boasts a “Hunger Games”-style plot that centers on a group of Japanese schoolchildren who are forced to fight each other to the death on a deserted island as part of a vicious government program. The following year it was adapted into a controversial cult film directed by Kinji Fukasaku, with violence so unflinching that it was subsequently banned in several countries. So, you know, perfect material for the CW.

Whether the project ultimately becomes a viable candidate for development likely rests with how the network responds to the “redeveloped” version of “dystopic dating series” “The Selection,” which is currently undergoing an overhaul after the original pilot failed to garner an enthusiastic response from CW brass. Said Pedowitz of the show: 

“It just wasn”t where we wanted to be tone wise. The producers and writers have gone back and are re scripting as we speak. We”ll hopefully see something soon or make a determination whether to go forward. Big believer in the show. I really wanted a show that had a ‘Game of Thrones’/’Hunger Games’ tone, and we hope it”s ‘The Selection.’ If it”s not, then we will look at another arena to go to in terms of that. ‘Battle Royale’ comes with a nice, you know, cult following, as we all know, and might have been one of the predecessors of a lot of these things we see today.”

In other words, while there are no plans for a “Battle Royale” series at this time, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Just don’t expect to see spilled entrails or copious amounts of bloodletting if it does happen.

“We’re not planning to do anything we cannot get in the air,” said Pedowitz of the gory source material. “No, we are not going to go in that direction. We’re going to wait and see what happens and how things develop.”

What do you think of the “Battle Royale” as a TV series? Would it even make sense for the CW in the first place? Sound off in the comments!

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