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Netflix just scored the rights to Sabrina… but how will that play in Riverdale?

Contributed by
Dec 1, 2017

Netflix keeps making more inroads into the world of comics, with word coming that the streaming service has picked up Riverdale spin-off series Sabrina — a supernatural drama that originally had been planned for The CW.

Multiple outlets report Netflix has struck a deal for two seasons of the live-action series, with each season clocking in at 10 episodes apiece. So far, Netflix hasn’t said when the new show would debut, but shooting on the first batch of episodes is reportedly slated to begin in February, with the second season’s shoot wrapping in October.

Followers know that Sabrina — a big piece of the same Archie Comics lore-verse where Riverdale resides — was kept out of The CW’s series ahead of the network’s September announcement that Sabrina was getting its own show.

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But now that Netflix has snapped up what The CW began with Sabrina, there’ll be a waiting game until fans find out how much crossover, if any, Netflix has in store. Under The CW's umbrella, Riverdale has a decided head start on creating a well-established context for both tales. According to Variety, Warner Bros. TV will own the Sabrina series, while "'Riverdale' is a co-production with CBS TV Studios."

It’s possible that some types of crossover boundaries won’t present too much of a problem: Netflix already has streaming rights to last season’s Riverdale, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie Comics’ chief creator (as well as Riverdale scribe and showrunner), wrote the pilot script for Sabrina. But how the specifics might play out over the course of a two-season, 20-episode run — all while The CW, for its part, continues to unfurl more of Riverdale — remains to be seen.

Drawn straight from Archie Comics’ The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina graphic novel, Sabrina takes the benign themes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and grows them up: stakes are higher, forces are darker, and the teens who play at witchcraft in the Chilling Adventures sandbox are far more wise to the world — as well as the world of the occult.

Expanding the Archie Comics universe may ultimately prove harder for The CW than for Netflix, even though Warner Bros. Television’s Berlanti Productions, which is producing Sabrina for Netflix, has most of its scripted series airing over on The CW. The vast majority of those programs (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl) are set within the DC Extended Universe, though.

And, as we’ve seen with its ever-expanded Marvel roster, Netflix has demonstrated an aggressive tendency to acquire and grow new stories told within the same universe. We'll need to wait and see if the streaming service has a similar trick up its sleeve with its pickup of Sabrina.

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