It’s a well-known fact that Fringe is never exactly a shoe-in for renewal, and this year is no different. Season four of the universe-hopping, science fiction show has only averaged about 3.13 million viewers per episode (Live+SD) and Fox president Kevin Reilly used a recent TCA panel to comment on how the show is just costing the network money. Reilly was insistent that they hadn’t yet made a decision on Fringe‘s fate, but such comments by network executives usually don’t bode well. There may be a glimmer of hope, though. It has been confirmed that negotiations between Fox and Warner Bros. to bring Fringe back for a fifth season have started.
According to all sources, it’s really a number game at this point. In order for a fifth season of Fringe to work for Fox, Warner Bros. would need to give the network a lower per episode price for the series. Warner Bros. will obviously resist this as much as they can, but it is in their best interest to come to some kind of arrangement with Fox. Fringe only needs 13 episodes after this season to reach the 100 episode mark, which even a shortened fifth season would provide. 100 episodes is the magic number in terms of selling the syndication rights for a series, which is where production houses like Warner Bros. make most of their money on television programs.
Even though he doesn’t have much to do with the day-to-day running of the show, co-creator JJ Abrams is trying to throw a bit of weight around to influence the talks and demonstrate his own faith in Fringe. He told TVLine that he was “hopeful” the show will continue after the current season, and earlier this week said he was interested in directing an episode of Fringe in the future: “I would say without question that if Fringe comes back, I would do anything in my power to direct an episode. I would love it.” This may not hold much actual sway with Fox or Warner Bros., but it might help get Fringe‘s already worked up fanbase geared to fight for whatever extra episodes of the program they can get.