Hulu joins forces with Channel 4 for The First

Hulu screengrabHulu and Channel 4 have joined forces on The First, a drama about the first human mission to Mars that will be written by House of Cards scribe Beau Willimon.

The US streaming service and UK broadcaster have given a straight-to-series order to the project, which will be set in the near future, have an ensemble cast, and tell the story of the astronauts and their families back on earth.

“It’s a story about the human spirit,” said Willimon. “About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons.

“The prize is Mars, but the story is about the humans trying to get there.”

Willimon will work up the eight-part series with producing partner Jordan Tapis and the pair’s Westward will make and own the series. IMG is co-financing alongside Hulu and Channel and will sell the series internationally. Production gets underway later this year and the series bows next year.

Hulu announced a raft of programming as part of its Upfront presentation yesterday. The other major programme announcement was the pick-up of Marvel’s Runaways, its first comic book series and first deal with Marvel, which has made shows for ABC and Netflix among others.

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (The OC) will write and showrun the series, which will follow six diverse teenagers who can barely stand each other but who must unite against a common foe – their parents.

Another Hulu original, The Handmaid’s Tale, meanwhile, was renewed for a second season. The on-demand service also exclusive acquired streaming rights to FX series Atlanta.