It’s official: The Expanse has been saved. After the Syfy Channel canceled The Expanse earlier this month, Alcon Entertainment has confirmed that Amazon will pick up the show for a fourth season, after after outcry from the show’s fans.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made the announcement at the International Space Development Conference: where he appeared next to members of the show’s cast: “The Expanse is saved.”
Alcon Entertainment Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson issued a statement, confirming that Amazon would be picking up the show: “We couldn’t be more excited that The Expanse is going to continue on Amazon Prime! We are deeply grateful that Jeff Bezos, Jen Salke, and their team at Amazon have shown such faith in our show.”
Set two centuries in the future, The Expanse is based on the novel series by James S.A. Corey (the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), and is set in a colonized solar system. The destruction of an ice-hauling spaceship uncovers a vast conspiracy to exploit the chilly political tensions between Earth, Mars and the inhabitants of the asteroid belt and outer planets, with the crew of a spaceship called the Rocinante in the center of it all. The show is currently airing its its third season, which has finally brought the system to war after a steady increase in tensions between the various factions in the system. The announcement is good news for the show, especially as this week’s episode began a new story arc that opens up the future of the show for a huge range of new possibilities.
The show is one of the best, most relevant shows on the air, but that critical acclaim didn’t translate into high ratings. It struggled to find a consistent audience on Syfy, in part due to the network’s rights, which put an emphasis on live-viewings in a time when audience behaviors are drastically changing. Despite the cancellation, The Expanse is fully produced by Alcon Entertainment, which indicated that it would shop the show around to new potential homes. Fans of series have rallied around a hashtag #savetheexpanse, and launched a petition to Netflix or Amazon to save the show, which garnered more than 132,000 signatures, and raised money via GoFundMe to fly a banner with the hashtag around Amazon Studios’ headquarters in Santa Monica.
Those efforts seem to have worked. Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter said that Amazon was in talks to pick up the show. For its part, Amazon has been working to expand its streaming television options, with CEO Jeff Bezos instructing the studio to find more Game of Thrones-style shows with a global appeal. The Expanse easily fits that description, with a multiracial cast and an emphasis on the destructive nature of societal divisions. It’ll join a number of other adaptations in the works for the studio, including Ringworld, William Gibson’s The Peripheral, Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas, and a little-known fantasy world from J.R.R. Tolkien. Amazon is under pressure to grow its subscriber base, especially as other streaming services begin to offer their own, high-concept science fiction shows, like Apple’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy or Disney’s live-action Star Wars show. Here, Amazon is able to take advantage of not only a longer series of novels to draw from, but also a passionate and vocal fanbase.