Last time Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror was on our Netflix screens, it was June 2019 and we were listening to Miley Cyrus perform the NIN homage "On a Roll" as her character Ashley O in an episode that's become more and more relevant the more we give up control of our lives to Alexa. Since then, things have been quiet- at least in front of the camera. Behind the scenes, there were some maneuverings that could call the anthology series' future into question. Someone looking to answer those questions is Cathy Payne, former CEO of Endemol Shine International and now head of Banijay distribution arm Banijay Rights.
Why is Payne someone you should care about? Because earlier this summer, Banijay offered up $2.2 billion to take over Endemol Shine. Which means Endemol Shine's IPs now become Banijay's, including "Survivor," "MasterChef," "Temptation Island," "Mr. Bean," "Peaky Blinders," "Big Brother," and (yes) "Black Mirror." With us so far? Good, because this is where it gets awkward. Brooker and creative partner Annabel Jones used to have the production banner House of Tomorrow over at Endemol Shine- that is, until they left to open the production banner Broke and Bones over at Netflix. Except something was left behind with Endemol Shine: ownership of the series IP, which fell in Banijay's hands once the takeover was finalized.
During an interview with Variety, Payne confirmed that the five seasons of Black Mirror are a part of the Banijay library "both the format rights and finished tape rights." While there have been some unofficial reports that Netflix would like to buy the Black Mirror IP outright, Payne stated that the company is maintaining its licensing agreement with the streaming service. As for Banijay selling the rights completely, Payne says the company would "like to continue working together on that franchise." So where does that leave a possible sixth season? Would Banijay produce? Would Brooker and Jones be involved, or would the franchise move forward without them? Payne says the company's keeping all of their options open: "I think there could be all different models, the way we work these days. We're exploring a few options."
The fifth season of Black Mirror was made up of three episodes that included "Smithereens"(Andrew Scott, Damson Idris, and Topher Grace), focusing on a cab driver with an agenda whose life spins out of control after picking up a special passenger. "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" (Miley Cyrus, Angourie Rice, and Madison Davenport) focused on a lonely teenager who wants to connect with her favorite pop star – and a pop star who feels as if she's living another life. "Striking Vipers" (Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff, and Ludi Lin) focused on two college friends who reconnect after a number of years, but a sequence of events unfold that could alter both of their lives forever.
Netflix's Black Mirror offers a futuristic and occasional dystopian take on humanity's relationship with technology in a number of settings and environments, similarly depicted in shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and recently YouTube Originals' Weird City. The Emmy-award winner has featured a number of high-profile actors over the course of its four-season-and-specials run: Hayley Atwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jon Hamm, Hannah John-Kamen, Jodie Whittaker, Mackenzie Davis, Domhnall Gleeson, and others. Black Mirror was created and written by Brooker, with Jones serving as executive producer.