‘Devil in the White City’ Dead at Hulu: Why the Cancellation and What It Means for Fans

‘Devil in the White City’ Dead at Hulu
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At Hulu, Devil in the White City has been declared deceased.

According to sources, the limited series, which had been in different stages of development for more than ten years, is no longer being developed by the Disney-backed streamer. Sources claim that producers of ABC Signature are still dedicated to the drama and will seek out new outlets for the program.

The news arrived months after Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s drama star Keanu Reeves and director Todd Field (Tár) withdrew.

According to sources, Matt Ross, Jeremy Allen White, Jude Law of The Bear, Hulu, Paramount Television Studios, and Disney’s ABC Signature, who together were on board to create the series, had been in talks for the project. According to sources, White, Law, and director Ross are still negotiating with ABC Signature for the series, but it’s uncertain if they will advance given that Devil doesn’t yet have a home.

With Sam Shaw (Hulu’s Castle Rock) on board as writer, showrunner, and executive producer, Devil has been in the works for more than ten years, including a period when it was initially intended to be a feature picture. Along with Scorsese, DiCaprio and his Appian Way co-founder Jennifer Davisson executive produce. The latter was previously slated to assume the helm of the feature film take that Paramount Pictures had planned and had DiCaprio attached initially to appear in.

After months of negotiations, Reeves was confirmed to star in and executive produce the series Hulu chose to develop in 2019 and officially ordered into a series last year. The crime thriller, which eventually became a co-production between Paramount Television Studios and Disney’s ABC Signature, had Field on board to helm it. After a fierce bidding battle in 2015, when Billy Ray was hired to write the scripts, Paramount Pictures was awarded the rights to the book. Reeves left the program three days before Field’s departure.

Based on Erik Larson’s novel, Devil focused on Dr. H. H. Holmes, America’s first modern serial killer, and the man behind the notorious “Murder Castle” constructed in the shadow of the fair. Daniel H. Burnham, played by Reeves in the role formerly to be filled by Reeves, is a demanding but visionary architect who races to make his mark on history with the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

The series is also executive produced by Mark Lafferty, Stacey Sher, and Rick Yorn. The number of official episodes has not yet been established. For the films Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese, and DiCaprio previously collaborated. The frequent partners created previous TV adaptations of Gangs of New York and Shutter Island, but neither made it past the script stage. DiCaprio presently has a film and television deal with Apple, where he executive produced the Apple series Shining Girls.

The Cancellation

Hulu announced they canceled Devil in the White City in February 2022. The reason given for the cancellation was the creative differences between the streaming service and the producers of the show. The cancellation came as a surprise to many fans who were eagerly anticipating the release of the show.

The show had been developing for several years and had already experienced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was initially scheduled to begin production in 2020 but was delayed until 2021. The show was then pushed back, and it was unclear when production would begin.

Why the Cancellation?

Hulu decided to cancel Devil in the White City due to creative differences with the show’s producers. There are several reasons why this could have happened.

Firstly, the show was based on a non-fiction book, which could have made it challenging to adapt to television. The book tells the story of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, where a serial killer named H.H. Holmes operated a hotel that was later dubbed the “Murder Castle.” The show would have had to balance historical accuracy with entertainment value, which could have led to disagreements between the producers and Hulu.

Secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many delays and disruptions in the television industry. The pandemic has forced many productions to shut down, which could have affected the production of Devil in the White City. This could have led to scheduling conflicts and disagreements between the producers and Hulu.

Finally, the show was produced by Martin Scorsese, who has a reputation for being very hands-on with his projects. It’s possible that his creative vision clashed with that of Hulu’s executives, which could have led to the show’s cancellation.

What it Means for Fans

The cancellation of Devil in the White City disappoints book fans and the talent behind the show. The book was a bestseller and had a large following, and many fans were eagerly anticipating the show. The show also had an impressive cast and crew, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese attached to the project.

However, fans should not lose hope. The show’s cancellation does not necessarily mean it will never be made. It’s possible that another streaming service or network could pick the show up. Alternatively, the producers could choose to release the show in a different format, such as a movie or miniseries.

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Alex Hoffman-Ellis is a nerd who love technology and computers. He has been building computers for over 5 years now, and have always loved the challenge of learning how to make them faster, better, and more efficient. He's here to share his insights on these as a journalist, a designer and a technologist with love for writing and tech stuff. Words from Alex Hoffman: “Technology is best when it brings people together.”