If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you were probably sad to see the series go — and maybe wanted a little more. (And if you were and are holding off on the last episode or few, go read something else! What are you even doing here?)
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg loved Breaking Bad, like the rest of us. And Katzenberg also was reluctant to let go of the insane universe in which Heisenberg built his empire.
Non-Hollywood plebes like us have fanfic, but Katzenberg and Dreamworks have capital. That’s a fancy rich people word that means money, cash, cheddar, dough… you know, the stuff that talks.
I mean, I can write Walt and Jesse into a bromantic alternate ending in which they actually move to Belize and rekindle their brolationship, but it wouldn’t have the music or the sepia tones.
So back to DreamWorks, and the more Breaking Bad proposal. Of course, a last episodes crazed Katzenberg also had no idea how the show could possibly tie all the ends together so masterfully, and he cooked up a pretty interesting plan that was ultimately fruitless due to the ending… but nonetheless compelling.
According to trade mag Variety, Katzenberg was prepared to reach into his barrel of cash in the desert and shell out $75 million, a sight more than the per episode rate commanded throughout the show’s run.
Speaking at Mipcom in Cannes, he said it was not too long before Breaking Bad‘s stunning conclusion that he made the offer, which works out to $75 million for three whole episodes, $25 million a piece — or if whole runtime is counted, about $416,667 per minute of more Breaking Bad.
During the Mipcom keynote, Katzenberg explained:
“I had this crazy idea. I was nuts for the show. I had no idea where this season was going… The last series cost about $3.5 million an episode. So they would make more profit from these three shows than they made from five years of the entire series.”
Here’s where it gets interesting, though. We’ll be the first to admit it could seem like a cynical ploy to wring a few extra minutes of profit out of what was an unusually elevated bit of art on a normally lowest common denominator content delivery platform (television.)
And that such a proposal has a high risk of sucking heartily, in the process not only being bad itself but ruining a show that for all its writers stated lack of outline, worked out like a perfect orchestral performance.
However, Katzenberg did have a pretty neat idea — to change the way Breaking Bad was delivered entirely — and perhaps a concept that would have pioneered a new mode of content delivery.
Explaining that he’d envisioned a 30-day event of six minute long installments priced at between 50 cents and a dollar, he added:
“I said (to them), ‘I’m going to create the greatest pay-per-view television event for scripted programming anybody’s ever done.’ “
“I share the story with you only to tell you that I have the courage of my convictions in this. I just think that there is a whole new platform for (short form) entertainment, and the higher the quality of the stuff that fills it, the higher people will be paid for the work that they are doing there.”
As we all know, Katzenberg’s Breaking Bad offer wasn’t to be, and it’s probably better that way. However, it is a concept we find piquing… coul the short-form, high-quality webisode change television as we know it?