Arrested Development fans got a pleasant surprise last week when Netflix released a new “remixed” version of the show’s fourth season, but the surprise wasn’t so pleasant to the show’s cast. Arrested Development Season 4 featured a far different structure than previous seasons, owing to the cast’s busy schedules. Since it was tough to get everyone together at the same time, creator/showrunner Mitch Hurwitz instead designed 15 new episodes that each focused on a specific character or character’s point of view. There were only a couple of scenes in which the entire cast was together, and elsewhere greenscreen was utilized to put actors in the same frame even though they weren’t physically in the same room.
This “remixed” version of Season 4 expands the episode count to 22 and shortens each episode’s runtime to 22 minutes, a more traditional network length. Moreover, the episodes now interweave storylines rather than focusing specifically on one character for each installment.
But THR reports that actors including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and David Cross are asking for added compensation, since this “remixed” version of the season now alters their per-episode fees they were paid when the season was initially made. Per the Season 4 scale, the actors were paid $100,000 for their standalone episodes, $50,000 for each installment in which they had a little screentime, and $25,000 for episodes in which they barely appeared. The cast is asking for additional compensation now that the episodes have been reworked and the count has been expanded, but apparently 20th Century Fox TV is pushing back, claiming that it has the right to re-edit the existing episodes however they choose.
The kicker here is that this whole “remixing” experiment wasn’t just a gift to fans. It was a request from Fox TV to create 22 more traditional-type episodes, which would then be easier for Fox to package into a lucrative syndication deal. Indeed, Fox plans to sell the global syndication rights to Arrested Development once Netflix’s exclusive window closes, as the upcoming Season 5 brights the episode total to a number at which syndication becomes viable. Remember, Arrested Development didn’t originate as a Netflix Original Series—the streaming service simply picked up the show and ordered an additional season (now two seasons), so the rights are more complicated than something like Mindhunter or Marvel’s Luke Cage.
This news comes as Season 5 is about to debut on Netflix at the end of this month, which reportedly consists of 17 episodes. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but it’s certainly easy to understand where the cast is coming from here—especially when Fox stands to make bank on the more syndication-friendly versions of these episodes.