Some pretty big and unprecedented news broke with regards to Marvel TV last week with word that not only was the Inhumans property coming to television, but also that the first two episodes would debut in IMAX theaters. It’s a bold move, giving the premiere episodes of a new TV series a splashy first-showing on the biggest movie screens around, and was also a curious one seeing as how Marvel Studios has been developing an Inhumans movie for quite some time. Indeed, the Inhumans film was slated for release in 2019 until earlier this year, when Disney pulled the film off of the schedule. The official line is that this Inhumans TV series does not replace the feature film, but it certainly complicates matters.
But now, per THR, we have a few more details on what we can expect from this Inhumans series. First, it is expected to consist of eight episodes, with the first two filmed entirely with IMAX cameras. ABC is expected to then take those first two episodes and expand them with additional content for broadcast, which suggests that perhaps these first two episodes in their IMAX format may not be as long as hourlong broadcast television. Or, on the flipside, maybe the broadcast versions will be “extended” episodes. Either way, the point is that even those who see the first episodes in IMAX will be spurred to watch them on ABC less they miss out on seeing the whole thing.
Moreover, subsequent action sequences in the series—including some set on the moon—will also be shot using IMAX cameras even though the episodes (as of now) won’t be in IMAX theaters. IMAX is reportedly paying for these first two episodes, which explains why ABC was able to greenlight such an expensive concept, and indeed THR says the whole idea for this Inhumans series debuting in IMAX in the first place was IMAX’s idea.
IMAX has been solidifying its relationship with Marvel as the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4—which are being filmed concurrently—are being shot entirely with IMAX’s new digital cameras. This Inhumans series is an extension of that partnership, and is a way for IMAX to increase its footprint beyond feature films. Indeed, after finding success with the exhibition of Game of Thrones, IMAX is looking for more TV opportunities, and Inhumans is likely just the beginning.
This is also seen as a “win” for ABC, as the network hopes that viewers will follow Inhumans to the small screen and will subsequently tune in for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which was Marvel Studios’ first venture into the TV realm and which has found considerably less success than was expected following the herculean box office of The Avengers.
So will Inhumans be a limited series, of only eight episodes, or will it be a fully fledged new network series? Will the episode order be expanded? Will subsequent seasons also include IMAX exhibition? There are still a lot of questions left unanswered by this groundbreaking new deal, but it’s certainly an interesting move on the part of IMAX, Marvel, and ABC. Whether it pays off won’t be known until late summer 2017, when the two-week run of Inhumans begins in IMAX theaters.