Tick, Tock: Time’s Running Out for ’24’

Fox is closer to deciding whether to pull the plug on its Keifer Sutherland franchise. But, fear not: Jack may land in feature film heaven

Last Updated: February 9, 2010 @ 5:06 PM

Time may be running out for Fox’s "24" — but the series could live on via another network or a feature film.

That’s the word from Entertainment Weekly and Variety, which Monday night reported that the film and TV studio units of 20th Century Fox are moving forward with long buzzed-about plans to transition the Keifer Sutherland franchise to the big screen. Bill Ray ("State of Play") has been signed to write a script for a possible film, with Sutherland, Imagine Entertainment and the show’s producers attached to a feature, the publications said.

Just when a "24" feature might move forward could depend on how long "24" the series continues. Fox Broadcasting hasn’t renewed the series for a ninth season, and Variety said "the betting is that this season will be the final one."

It also indicated this week’s ratings could be key to a decision, though other industry insiders suggested to TheWrap that a call is still a few weeks away. "24" upticked a tad this week but remained in third place behind CBS’s powerhouse comedies and ABC’s resurgent "The Bachelor."

It wouldn’t be surprising if money was involved in all this speculation. The Fox network and studio have a history of quietly clashing over coin, despite being owned by the same company. A renewal for "Bones," for example, nearly didn’t happen last year because two News Corp. units had trouble agreeing on a fair price for the show.

In the case of "24," however, there’s no sign of any squabbling between the two units. The fact is, "24" is a very expensive show to produce, and Fox executives may simply decide it no longer makes sense to continue given the series’ solid but weakened ratings this season.

Making things tougher: Fox executives still believe the show is on solid footing creatively.

The Variety story also hints that 20th might shop a "24" series to another network if Fox didn’t step up and renew the series.

Another possibility, insiders tell TheWrap: A revamped, less costly take on "24" that would allow the franchise to stay in the Fox family.