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Ah, the delightful horrors and flights of sci-fi fantasy that might have been. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the short-lived run of Quibi, the much-hyped “quick bites” mobile streaming service that — at least in the early going — shot out the gate with a planned lineup of original series that seemed to rope in just about every big creative name in entertainment.
Quibi launched in 2020 and ran for just a few brief months, shutting down Dec. 1, 2020.
The service, which took aim at satisfying the quick attention spans of our modern world’s always-online, device-centric entertainment culture, assembled an impressive roster of A-list producers and stars with plans to develop dozens of brand-new projects. It sounded almost too good to be true: Quibi's initial tease of original shorts included the creative guidance of sci-fi and horror greats like Steven Spielberg, the Russo brothers, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, and more.
In the brief few months that the subscription service actually delivered content, some of those projects — like Raimi’s 50 States of Fright horror anthology series — did manage to see the light of day. But the platform’s early exit left far more projects languishing as cool-sounding, but unrealized, ideas.
Streaming giant Roku bought up a generous chunk of Quibi’s lingering content library back in January, and as recently as last month reaffirmed its plans to include at least some of those never-debuted projects among an upcoming push, via The Wall Street Journal, of 50 new "Roku Original" shows set to arrive within the next two years. But Roku so far hasn’t gotten too specific with which leftover Quibi projects we might get to see, leaving us wondering about their ultimate fates — for better or worse.
Though we’re still treading in murky territory when it comes to knowing when (or if) Quibi’s unaired remnants will reemerge, let’s at least take stock of where things left off with some of its biggest stranded sci-fi, comics, and horror names… and hope for the best as Roku starts rolling out the good stuff in the months to come.
50 States of Fright
Let’s start with one of the easy ones. With Sam Raimi among the series’ long list of executive producers and writers, horror anthology series 50 States of Fright managed to cleave its way through nine U.S. states before Quibi shut things down late last year. Through two seasons, 50 States leveraged Quibi's trademark short-form episodic format to spread gripping tales of dread across 24 vignettes that, though brief, still managed to leave fans hanging from one episode to the next to see how things would resolve.
But that still leaves a big chunk of the project’s planned coast-to-coast fright fest unexplored. Variety’s original report on Roku’s Quibi buy-up suggested that the series would live on at its new home, and sure enough, Roku made all of the existing 50 States episodes available for streaming in late October. Alas, though, there’s still no official word on whether the series will hit the road at Roku to visit the remaining 41 states with fresh episodes…or if we’ll have to content ourselves merely with what’s already there.
Code 8 spinoff series
Stephen and Robbie Amell showed up on Instagram last month to confirm that production had begun on the sequel to Code 8, the dystopian superhero movie that the Amell cousins collaborated on with director Jeff Chan in 2019. But Code 8: Part II is a full-length feature film that’s bound for Netflix, leaving fans to speculate on what might become of its short-form spinoff series, which was originally planned for Quibi.
Chan and both Amells had initially been attached to the Code 8 Quibi spinoff until the platform shut down, and in the months since, there’s been nothing but eerie silence concerning the series’ future. Fans looking for a ray of hope might take the coldest of comforts from Robbie Amell’s recent Instagram post from the Part II location set in chilly Canada, where he cryptically joked, “Hopefully Part 3 is warmer.” Until we hear more, though, it’s probably a good idea to refrain from heating up the hype machine and just be glad the franchise is living on at Netflix.
Guillermo del Toro horror project
Quibi stirred up tons of early buzz by teasing Oscar-caliber creative talent, and one of the biggest names in its arsenal of planned projects belonged to The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro. Early last year, The New York Times shared what little was known about del Toro’s Quibi partnership — though even then, the details were super-slight.
First Quibi announced that the Oscar-winning director was creating a modern vampire film — working title “Aftermath,” the Times reported. “Then Quibi said that it was about zombies. Either way, it was about the undead, del Toro’s specialty.” Since then, though, there’s been scant info on what became of the project — and perhaps the best indication of its progress (or lack of it) can be found in del Toro’s recent schedule: He’s been hard at work on the dark fantasy feature film Nightmare Alley (which stars Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, and Cate Blanchett). It’s debuting in theaters on Dec. 17.
Spielberg’s After Dark
While we’re talking Oscar winners, whatever became of Spielberg’s After Dark, the working title for Steven Spielberg’s planned Quibi horror series that — at least in the planning stages — was meant only to unlock on fans’ phones and tablets after the sun had disappeared? After Dark reportedly was set to be the iconic director’s first writing project since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, lending even more hype to what already sounded like a pretty novel idea.
As with most of Quibi’s other stranded series, After Dark appears to have been part of Roku’s big content scoop, though there’s no word at all on when, or even whether, it might ever appear on the platform (or how much may have been shot before Quibi called it quits). “Another [Roku premiere] evidently will be Spielberg’s After Dark,” Variety noted in its report back in January, giving fans at least a little reason to stay vigilant. But since then, we’ve heard nothing new.
CURS_R (Ridley Scott)
Out of all the intriguing things that Quibi teased from the start, this may be the one that leaves us blinking with the most uncertainty. Sci-fi great Ridley Scott was set to team with Quibi as an executive producer on CURS_R — a project, according to Deadline, “about a computer survival game that tricks players into playing for their lives.”
CURS_R was supposed to slot into Quibi’s genre lineup as a gaming-centric horror thriller, following “a broke student who, in pursuit of an unclaimed $100,000 prize, plays an obscure 1980s survival computer game” (via Deadline’s report) only to realize that she’s become trapped in a virtual fight for her actual life. Ever since Quibi shut down, though, there’s been nothing but a blank screen when it comes to tracking down new info on whether the project is still plugged in. So this one either didn't make it into production, or may have some content locked away in Roku's vault.
There’s at least one more high-profile Quibi original that's survived the platform’s demise, and it’s a good one. Roku streamers have inherited from Quibi the docu-series Slugfest, which takes a deep, blow-by-blow peek into the epic history of the decades-long comic book rivalry between Marvel and DC. Produced by Joe and Anthony Russo and narrated by Kevin Smith, it’s inspired by author Reed Tucker’s book Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC — which itself is must-read material for any dedicated comics fan.
Slugfest premiered its first episode during New York Comic Con last year, and went on to debut at Quibi before the curtains closed for good. There’s no word on when it'll appear at Roku (or if more episodes are coming), but the Russos themselves took to Twitter earlier this year to confirm — and celebrate — the platform’s plans to bring Slugfest on board as a rebranded Roku Original.