The Penguin (TV series)

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The Penguin
Official logo
Genre
Created byLauren LeFranc
Based on
Written byLauren LeFranc
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producers
Production locationNew York
CinematographyDarran Tiernan
EditorAndy Keir
Production companies
Original release
NetworkMax

The Penguin is an upcoming American television limited series created by Lauren LeFranc for the streaming service Max. Based on the DC Comics character Penguin, it is a spin-off from the film The Batman (2022) that explores the Penguin's rise to power in Gotham City's criminal underworld. The series is produced by 6th & Idaho, DC Studios, and Dylan Clark Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with LeFranc serving as showrunner.

Colin Farrell stars as the Penguin, reprising his role from The Batman, alongside Cristin Milioti. Development was underway by September 2021, with LeFranc attached as writer and Farrell soon set to reprise his role. HBO Max ordered the series shortly after the film's March 2022 release, and Craig Zobel joined to direct the first three episodes in October, with Helen Shaver also directing. Filming began in March 2023 in New York before it was suspended in June due to the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike. It resumed in late November and wrapped in February 2024.

The Penguin is scheduled to be released on Max in late 2024 and will consist of eight episodes.

Premise[edit]

Taking place one week following the events of The Batman (2022),[1] the series explores the rise to power of Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot / Penguin in Gotham City's criminal underworld.[2]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Actors cast in undisclosed roles include Rhenzy Feliz as a lead character,[9] Shohreh Aghdashloo, Deirdre O'Connell,[10] James Madio, Scott Cohen,[7] Theo Rossi,[11] Carmen Ejogo, François Chau, David H. Holmes,[12] Craig Walker,[13] and Jared Abrahamson.[14]

Episodes[edit]

No.[15]TitleDirected byWritten by [1]Original release date
1TBACraig Zobel[16]Lauren LeFrancLate 2024 (2024)[17]
2TBACraig Zobel[16]Lauren LeFranc2024 (2024)
3TBACraig Zobel[9]Lauren LeFranc2024 (2024)

The series will consist of eight episodes,[15] which were written by Lauren LeFranc.[1] Helen Shaver also serves as a director.[18][19]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

By September 2021, HBO Max was in early development on a spin-off series from the film The Batman (2022) focusing on the character Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot / Penguin.[2] The Batman director Matt Reeves had suggested to studio executives that a sequel film could explore the Penguin further, but they wanted to use the idea for a spin-off series instead.[20] Lauren LeFranc was hired to write the series, while Reeves and The Batman producer Dylan Clark were set as executive producers through their respective production companies 6th & Idaho and Dylan Clark Productions. They had previously begun development on another spin-off series focused on the Gotham City Police Department,[2] but by early March 2022 that series had been put on hold in favor of spin-offs focused on existing comic book characters;[21][22] of these, the Penguin series was the furthest along in development at that time.[20] Reeves was unsure then whether he would be directing the series,[20] which he said would come before a sequel to The Batman and could tie-into that potential second film.[21] Soon after, following The Batman's release, the limited series received a straight-to-series order from HBO Max using the working title The Penguin, with LeFranc confirmed to serve as showrunner and executive producer. 6th & Idaho's Daniel Pipski and Adam Kassan were also set as executive producers, along with Rafi Crohn as a co-executive producer.[23]

Star Colin Farrell said in July 2022 that Reeves would not be directing the series but was providing guidance on the structure of the scripts and was involved in choosing who would direct them.[24] In October, Craig Zobel was hired to direct the first three episodes of the series and to serve as an executive producer.[16][9][25] It was unclear then if Reeves' future DC projects for a planned The Batman shared universe would be placed under the control of James Gunn and Peter Safran, heads of the then-recently announced DC Studios that was set to lead DC's film and television projects, or under the supervision of Warner Bros. Pictures co-chairmen Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy.[26] Gunn confirmed soon after that DC Studios would oversee all DC productions, and had contacted Reeves about his projects by then.[27]

When announcing the first projects for the new DC franchise the DC Universe (DCU) in January 2023, Gunn said any project that did not fit into the DCU's shared universe would be labeled as "DC Elseworlds" moving forward. This is the same as how DC Comics uses the Elseworlds imprint to mark comic books that are separate from the main continuity.[28] Reeves' Batman shared universe was set to be a part of this label,[28][29] including The Penguin.[28][29] Bill Carraro was set as an executive producer by the following month.[9] The series consists of eight episodes,[15] totaling approximately six-to-eight hours of content.[1] Farrell felt this length would allow time to explore Oz's origin story and could be "endlessly fun and fascinating and brutal" with an intended R-rated interpretation;[30] the series was set to receive a TV-MA rating.[31] The Penguin was confirmed as the title in April 2023 when it was revealed to be releasing on the streaming service Max, the successor to HBO Max.[32][33] In January 2024, Helen Shaver was revealed to also be serving as a director.[18][19]

Writing[edit]

The series begins one week after the events of The Batman, following the flooding of Gotham City as depicted at the end of the film,[1] which Farrell said made for a "very tricky, very dark story".[34] The series occurs shortly before the events of the film's sequel The Batman – Part II (2026),[15] establishing a "little fabric" of plans that would lead into the sequel.[35] Farrell said the death of crime boss Carmine Falcone in The Batman had left a power vacuum within Gotham's criminal underworld, resulting in many different forces vying for power. He added the series would be "incredibly violent" and that Oz would face "extraordinary obstacles".[36] Clark said it would show Oz's rise to power and compared the series to Scarface (1983). He added that the series was intended to be a standalone story from The Batman, and would enhance the experience of watching the film.[37] Reeves cited The Long Good Friday (1980) as an additional influence, and said the series was about the American Dream, with Oz being "underestimated... nobody thinks he's capable of doing anything [but he] believes in himself with a visceral violence". LeFranc had written the pilot script by early March 2022, when the story for the first season had been finished,[21] in addition to writing the other episodes.[1]

Farrell read the first episode by mid-October 2022 and called it tasty and unusual, and was excited to further explore the "bang up of Oz" that Reeves envisioned for the character. He was set to read the second and third episodes the following week.[1] The scripts were completed by the start of May 2023.[38] Sarah Aubrey, the head of originals for HBO Max, said the goal for the series was to explore Oz's life that is rooted in the streets of Gotham and described him as "a hustler and a strategist with his own ambitions".[15]

Casting[edit]

By the time development was revealed to be underway on the series in September 2021, Colin Farrell had been approached about reprising his role as Penguin from The Batman, but was not contractually obligated to reprise his role.[2] By December, Farrell officially signed on to star in the series and executive produce it.[3] He described working with LeFranc as a similarly collaborative experience to working with Reeves on The Batman.[34] In March 2022, Reeves said there was potential for other characters from the film to appear in the series.[21] At the end of October, Cristin Milioti was cast as the female lead Sofia Falcone.[5] In February 2023, Rhenzy Feliz was cast in a lead role, which was believed to be a teenager who befriends Cobblepot and becomes his driver,[9] while Michael Kelly was cast as Johnny Vitti,[10][8] and Shohreh Aghdashloo and Deirdre O'Connell were also cast in undisclosed roles.[10] Clancy Brown was cast the following month in the recurring role of Salvatore Maroni.[6] Later in March, Michael Zegen, James Madio, Scott Cohen,[7] and Theo Rossi were cast in recurring roles,[7][11] with Zegen reportedly portraying Alberto Falcone.[7] Carmen Ejogo, François Chau, and David H. Holmes were cast in recurring roles the following month.[12] Craig Walker was revealed to have been cast by November 2023.[13] In January 2024, Jared Abrahamson was cast in an undisclosed "key" recurring role.[14]

Design[edit]

Farrell said Mike Marino, the makeup designer for The Batman, would return for the series,[4] and he felt the makeup was subtly perfected more, allowing for him to freely explore beyond his facial features.[34] Helen Huang serves as the costume designer,[39] and Kalina Ivanov serves as the production designer.[40]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on March 1, 2023,[41][42] in New York City,[43] using the working title Boss,[42] with Darran Tiernan serving as a cinematographer for the three episodes directed by Zobel.[44][45] Soundstage work occurred at Silvercup Studios North in Queens.[46][39] Filming was set to take place in Westchester County, New York on May 16 when picketers participating in the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike caused production to shut down for the day. After further picketing the following day at the series' sets at a church in Harlem, Manhattan, and at Silvercup North that once again shut down filming, production was paused through May 18. Filming of smaller scenes took place the day after in Brooklyn.[46] In June, production was suspended until after the strike concluded.[47] Filming had been expected to occur over five or six months.[48] Kelly had one day left of filming to complete before filming was shut down.[8] When the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike ended on November 9, filming was set to resume at the end of the month and was considered to be a priority for Warner Bros.[49][50] Filming resumed on November 27, in the Bronx and took place at Whitestone, Queens the following day.[51] Kelly had completed filming his scenes by January 2024,[52] and filming on the series wrapped on February 17.[40]

Post-production[edit]

Andy Keir serves as an editor on the series.[53][third-party source needed]

Marketing[edit]

The first footage from the series' production was released on April 12, 2023, during the Max Day press event.[32][54] Anthony D'Alessandro of Deadline Hollywood said the footage had "the look of a dark Sopranos, with Farrell playing a full-on crime boss",[32] while Matt Patches at Polygon also highlighted the Sopranos energy and noted it continued to use the "dark, orange-washed aesthetic" from The Batman.[55] Ryan Scott of /Film said the teaser, which combined the series' footage with behind-the-scenes work, was "shockingly put together" given filming had only recently begun then and that it looked like a "very gritty crime drama". He also noted the teaser billed the series as "the next chapter in The Batman saga".[56] Andy Behbakht for Screen Rant said it would be "fascinating to see how" the series was executed with the Penguin being the lead, given there had not been a previous Batman-related series headlined by a particular villain.[57] New footage was included in a teaser for Max's 2024 content line-up in December 2023.[58]

The first trailer was screened on March 21, 2024, for a world premiere at the Series Mania television festival in Lille, France,[59] and it was released online as a teaser trailer the following day. D'Alessandro noted that the Penguin's "philosophical proclamations and tall tales of yore" in the trailer payed homage to Tony Soprano from The Sopranos,[60] while Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter likened the trailer to "DC's answer to The Sopranos.[61] Mark Hughes at Forbes also compared the trailer's vibe to that of The Sopranos and Scarface and noted it maintained the noir aesthetic from The Batman.[62]

Release[edit]

The Penguin is scheduled to be released on the streaming service Max in late 2024,[17] and will consist of eight episodes.[15] It was initially planned for a mid-2024 premiere but was delayed due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.[17]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]