Manifest lives! Netflix picks up the drama for a fourth and final season
The streamer announced Saturday morning that it has ordered 20 episodes of the drama from Warner Bros. TV and creator/executive producer Jeff Rake, who rallied viewers via social media this summer to not give up on the show after NBC grounded it in June. And boy did those fans stay loyal to the passengers of Flight 828: reruns of the drama about a group whose plane mysteriously disappeared for five years remained among Netflix's most-watched programs for weeks and weeks.
"What started years ago as a flight of fancy deep in my imagination has evolved into the jet engine journey of a lifetime," Rake in a statement. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the worldwide outpouring of love and support for this story, its characters, and the team who work so hard to bring it all to life. That we will be able to reward the fans with the ending they deserve moves me to no end. On behalf of the cast, the crew, the writers, directors, and producers, thank you to Netflix, Warner Bros., and of course to the fans. You did this."
"Since its premiere on Netflix in June, Manifest has proven very popular with our members," added Bela Bajaria, Netflix head of global TV, in a statement. "Jeff Rake and his team have crafted a beguiling mystery that has viewers around the world on the edge of their seats and believing again in second chances, and we're thrilled that they will bring fans some closure with this final super-sized season."
News of the pickup went wide at 8:28 a.m. PT on Aug. 28 to commemorate the flight number and day each year that fans "celebrate" the drama. Corny, but cute, right? And there was one caveat to the deal: the 20 episodes will be presented in "parts to be determined," a source informed EW, which means the fourth season could be broken into chunks.
After NBC declined to order the series for a fourth season, Rake started an online campaign while Warner Bros. TV tried to find a new home for the supernatural drama. Netflix kicked the tires but declined, not yet aware that many of its subscribers would end up watching seasons 1 and 2. (The deal for Manifest was done before Peacock became a thing, which is why it didn't end up on NBC's sister streaming service.) Hulu, in the meantime, had the rights to season 3.
In an exclusive interview with EW in June, Rake expressed astonishment over how well the reruns were doing in the wake of Manifest's cancellation. "I can't begin to describe how gratifying it is to experience this show finding a new audience," he said. "A lot of folks who are focused on broadcast forget sometimes that there are millions and millions of viewers out there who consume all of their entertainment on platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Manifest has an entirely new legion of fans developing as we speak. For me as the creator, for my producers, for the cast, it's incredibly rewarding to take this brand on a new lap with an entirely new community of fans. Is it confusing? Yes. How strange for a show to seemingly be at the end of its rope and then suddenly it's the No. 1 series on Netflix for, I think it's 20 days in a row. I was well on my way through the stages of grief to process the premature ending of the story. Now I am basking in the rebirth of the show."
While waiting to see if someone — anyone — would air or stream the fourth season, Rake told EW he had already begun outlining it. "I am personally sketching out how to consolidate the back half of the series into a much more streamlined, cut-to-the-chase two-hour finale that would distill all of the hanging chads of the series."
Some of those "hanging chads" included Angelina kidnapping baby Eden and killing Grace, which caused the entire plane to disappear; Captain Daly suddenly appearing in the cockpit before it vanished; Cal touching the tail fin and disappearing, before returning five and a half years older when it's too late to save his mom; and Jared learning that Saanvi killed the major and Vance covered it up, so he couldn't go back to his relationship with Sarah without telling her the truth.
"There is a huge appetite for people wanting to know what's that end of the story, what happened to the passengers, what ultimately happened to that airplane," Rake told EW.
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