Disney announced a lot of their big plans for the future in a huge investor presentation last week, but they didn’t announce all of them. There’s one property that I’ve been hearing whispers about that didn’t get mentioned. That property is Firefly. The lack of an announcement about it doesn’t mean, however, that Disney isn’t keen to do something with the Joss Whedon cult phenom. In fact, they’re working on a new Firefly series for Disney+. Development on their Firefly reboot is in such an early stage, however, that they couldn’t make an announcement about it during last week’s Investor Day.
Disney acquired the rights to Firefly in their acquisition of Fox back in 2019. There was no immediate move to do anything with the property, but something has changed. That something is the end of movie theaters.
Movie theaters are done. The biggest chain in the world will likely shutter permanently next month and the others are likely to follow suit. As a result Disney’s focus is shifting away from movies and towards producing programming for streaming platforms. Their investor presentation last week demonstrated this with a strong focus on Disney+ programming. To feed the streaming beast Disney needs more and more TV programming. Specifically, they’d like to have something that’s a draw besides Star Wars and Marvel. One of their plans to up the variety of content on their streaming platform is Firefly.
My source tells me that Disney is in early development on a Firefly reboot. The new show would start the story of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew aboard the Serenity over from scratch, with an aim to make this a long-running series on Disney+. There is a twist here and the twist is that they see the show as ideal family-friendly programming for Disney+. My source tells me they’re planning to target it more at a PG-adventure, family audience and less at the sort of PG-13 dynamic the original Joss Whedon show went for.
This shift in tone suggests the new version of Firefly might drop characters like Inara, who is basically a prostitute. Instead it’ll probably lean more into the fun and adventure aspect of the universe’s stories. Fans may initially be unhappy, but it’s easy to see a way it could work.
My source was unable to confirm to me whether series creator Joss Whedon is actually involved in the new Firefly reboot. Whedon has recently been embroiled in a strange controversy with some of his former actors and it’s made him difficult to employ. Disney, not wanting to court the ire of outraged Twitter activists, may simply be unwilling to have him involved in their brand. It could also end up that Whedon won’t want to be involved, if indeed Disney really is committed to turning Firefly into a gold standard family-friendly adventure series. That may skew too far from his original vision for the program.
Firefly was cancelled by Fox television back in 2002. It only produced 14 episodes. The series would later get something a revival with the movie Serenity in 2005. That wrapped up some of the show’s plots, but ultimately never became the box office juggernaut dedicated Firefly fans thought it deserved to be. Since then the franchise has been dormant, with the cast having moved on to other things. Disney’s Firefly reboot could be just the thing fans have been waiting for.