Pop, pop the champagne: Maybe it’s not the darkest timeline after all, as “six seasons and a movie” is finally becoming reality. Peacock has ordered a movie based on the Dan Harmon comedy “Community,” bringing back original stars Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash and Ken Jeong to check in on what the gang from Greendale has been up to since the show ended in 2015.
Without sharing specifics, Peacock and Sony Pictures TV, which jointly announced the greenlight on Friday, described the negotiations for Peacock to secure the movie as “heavily competitive.” As part of the deal, Peacock has also acquired non-exclusive rights to the full six-season “Community” library, which can also be found on Netflix and Hulu.
“Community” creator Harmon is behind the movie as executive producer and writer, along with Andrew Guest. McHale also serves as EP, as do Russ Krasnoff and Gary Foster. Sony Pictures TV and Universal Studio Group’s Universal Television shingle are the studios on the show. (“Community” ran on NBC for five of the show’s six seasons, and Universal TV served as one of the show’s production companies, with studio lead Sony .)
“‘Six seasons and a movie’ started out as a cheeky line from ‘Community’s early seasons and quickly ignited a passionate fan movement for this iconic, hilarious and cool (cool, cool) NBC comedy,” said Susan Rovner, chairman, entertainment content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We’re incredibly grateful that 15 years later, we are able to deliver fans this promised movie and can’t wait to get to work with Dan Harmon, Andrew Guest, Joel McHale, Sony and our partners at UTV to continue this epic comedy for Peacock audiences.”
Further details — including a director and an estimated premiere date — have not yet been shared. Also unanswered is whether other key “Community” cast members, including Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover, might still make an appearance — or at least a cameo. (It’s probably safe to say Chevy Chase, who had a falling out with the show and whose character eventually died, won’t be back.)
“Community” experienced quite a roller coaster ride during its original 2009-2015 run. The show launched in fall 2009 on NBC, where it seemed to perpetually live on the bubble. Pitched as a comedy about strangers who bond in a community-college study group, the show soon became an experiment in deconstructing the sitcom form, earning critical acclaim and a loyal fan base for its meta jokes, takes on TV tropes and its unique characters.
Washed-up lawyer Jeff Winger (as played by McHale), was the defacto leader of the group, along with Abed Nadir (Pudi), Britta Perry (Jacobs), Annie Edison (Brie), Shirley Bennett (Brown), Troy Barnes (Glover), Pierce Hawthorne (Chase), plus teacher-turned-student Ben Chang (Jeong) and Greendale Dean Craig Pelton (Rash). Other actors who played substantial roles on the show include John Oliver, Jonathan Banks, Paget Brewster and Keith David.
After Season 3, NBC and Sony, worried that “Community” hadn’t drawn enough of a mainstream audience, fired Harmon and brought in new executive producers. But after Season 4 (dubbed the “gas leak season”) alienated fans, Harmon — thanks to heavy lobbying by McHale and the rest of the cast – was reinstated.
Still, after years of dancing around cancellation, NBC finally pulled the plug on “Community” at the end of its fifth season. But that wasn’t the end of the line. Sony pitched a Season 6 to its then-sister ad-supported streamer Crackle, as well as Hulu, which held the show’s streaming rights. But none of those outlets could make it work financially. Then came Yahoo! Screen, which pledged 13 episodes at the show’s previous $2 million an episode price tag.
It was good for “Community” — but not so much for Yahoo!, which realized its investment far exceeded any revenue coming out of the show. By the end of Season 6 (and after a total of 110 episodes), “Community” had wrapped for good — as had Yahoo! Screen.
But that deal ultimately made the first half of the show’s tongue-in-cheek “six seasons and a movie” prophecy come true. That line was first uttered by Abed (Pudi) in the Season 2 episode “Paradigms of Human Memory.”
“‘Community’ was light years ahead of its time when it premiered on NBC in 2009 and we are thrilled to once again visit the brilliant minds of Dan Harmon, Andrew Guest and this impeccable cast,” said Jason Clodfelter, co-president, Sony Pictures Television Studios . “We are grateful to Peacock, our partners at UTV and to all the zealous fans who have cherished this iconic show.”
Added Universal TV president Erin Underhill: “This franchise is the very definition of community. We’re excited to bring the band back together and continue the journey of these beloved characters.”
“Community” won a Primetime Emmy for outstanding individual achievement in animation during its run and also spawned a tremendous fan base that even includes its own unofficial fan-led convention. Of course, since the show ended its run, “Community” cast members have all moved on to other critically acclaimed projects.
Talk of a movie has swirled for years — since even before “Community” wrapped. In 2014, before the show’s sixth season even aired on Yahoo! Screen, then-Sony Pictures Television programming president Zack Van Amburg said that a ‘Community’ movie, perhaps directed by either Justin Lin or Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (all of whom helmed episodes of the series) was likely. “I personally have had those conversations,” he said at the time.
In 2020, the cast (with everyone, including Glover, except for Chase) gathered for a table read and Q&A to support Frontline Foods and José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, tip-toed around the movie question, but hinted they were all game if a script were written. (Even Glover made it seem like he’d be up for it.)
“When I watch the episodes now, I have these waves come over me of like, first of all, my writers were amazing and probably didn’t get rewarded for it as much as maybe I thought the job was,” Harmon said at the time. “But second… the whole cast is just like a machine on a basketball court that automatically slam dunks everything that you put onto the court. We’ve all had enough success individually that we all know it doesn’t get any better.”
But speculation about the movie actually happening remained just that — speculation. Until last month. That’s when Harmon told Newsweek that there was an outline for the film. “There is an outline for it,” Harmon told Newsweek. “There’s a product put together and pitched out in the world. I guess that’s how real it is.”
Harmon was hesitant to continue riling fans up, though, adding: “That’s probably enough that’ll make people mad when [there’s nothing] a year from now. It still doesn’t mean there’s going to be a movie tomorrow. It means there is definitely going to be one.”
And now it’s official, Human Beings.