There are those who will argue that Bryan Fuller’s mad, operatic “Hannibal” ended exactly as it should have, even though it probably could have gone for at least another season or two. The reasons for the show’s cancellation have been widely debated among fans but it likely didn’t help that the self-consciously arty and visually transgressive (and yes, brilliant) work of art was juggled between timeslots by NBC, who aired it Thursday nights during the first season, moved it to Fridays to season two, and then tossed it between Thursday and Saturday for the third. While Fuller has teased “Hannibal” fanatics with ideas for what a potential fourth season would entail, it unfortunately does not appear that we’ll be playing catch-up with everyone’s favorite people-eating psychologist on the small screen any time soon.
One of the show’s producers, Martha De Laurentiis, has just recently weighed in on the show’s cancellation. She’s penned an op-ed in The Hill, one that more or less blames the untimely end of "Hannibal" on internet piracy. This is troubling, if not exactly surprising. Of course, piracy – aside from being a horrible disservice to the people who actually make the movies and shows we all watch – is a crippling problem in the world of film financing. Empirically, it’s impossible to financially compensate the cast and crew of a large production if the majority of your viewership is watching your show on their laptop. De Laurentiis goes on to drive this point home, stating:
When NBC decided not to renew ‘Hannibal’ for a fourth season—a show on which I served as executive producer—it wasn’t much of a leap to connect its fate with the fact that the show was ranked as the fifth-most illegally downloaded show in 2013. When nearly one-third of the audience is coming from pirated sites—despite the fact that a legitimate download for each episode was available the following day—you don’t have to know calculus to do the math….
….Did pirates kill “Hannibal”? Unfortunately, that is a cliffhanger that might last for a while. With more than 2 million viewers watching our show illegally, it’s hard not to think online pirates were, at the very least, partly responsible for hundreds of crew members losing their jobs and millions of fans — who watched the show legitimately — mourning the loss of a beloved program.
Makes sense, right? While future of "Hannibal" as a cult show has all but been cemented, it’s a shame for many that the unholy alliance of Dr. Lecter and Will Graham has (for now) come to an end. Fuller’s fanbase can rest assured that the showrunner is definitely staying busy: remember, he’s still adapting Neil Gaiman’s novel “American Gods” for the Starz network, and there’s also, of course, his upcoming take on “Star Trek.” Still, De Laurentiis’ words are a sobering reminder that art has a cost, and that it must be upheld and preserved – that it is not just something to consume blindly.
Thoughts? Should the demise of "Hannibal" be laid at the feet of pirates, or were other factors involved? Let us know below.