Mitch Hurwitz has good news for Arrested Development fans. "I'm working on the movie right now," the show's creator tells Rolling Stone. "I can't get into much more detail because I don't want to scare anybody off. I don't want to be presumptuous about it. I don't own the property outright – it's a 20th Century Fox property. But everybody seems really into it and really eager to make a movie."
The biggest challenge that Hurwitz faced when filming the fourth season last year was working around the busy schedules of the large cast. "A TV season is a six-month commitment," he says. "But I think it would be very doable to get them together for four or five weeks to make a movie."
Any sort of Arrested Development movie has yet to receive a green light, so Hurwitz is very reluctant to guess when it might see release. "I'm hoping it happens as soon as possible," he says. "But I want to be very careful about not putting out false information. I want to get a time and tell everybody when it's happening and not play with people. Right now, I'm trying to do something else for Netflix and a movie project and things. I'm always sort of superstitious about talking about this stuff before it happens. It's the best way to guarantee it doesn't happen."
Arrested Development returned as a Netflix-only show in May after being off the air for seven years. It got a ton of media attention, but some fans and critics were disappointed by the end result. "I was really aware that we were trying to do something that not only had nobody done before, but we didn't really tell anybody what were going to do," says Hurwitz. "That is, we made an eight-and-a-half-hour show. So nobody had any framework to watch it from."
The 15 new episodes largely focused on one character at a time. The same scene was often shown from many different perspectives, and jokes sometimes didn't pay off for several episodes. "By now, many people have gone through the episodes again," says Hurwitz. "They see the first episodes as the first chapters as opposed to the first episodes. People responding quickly to the first episodes was akin to reading a couple chapters of a book and saying, 'I don't like this.'"
Some of the online reaction to the new episodes was hostile, but Hurwitz steered clear of the countless reviews and recaps. "When we originally did the show there was a website called Television Without Pity," he says. "I would oftentimes go there and see reactions to the previous night's show. It was really interesting. They'd write things like, 'Now they're doing black puppets! They've ruined the show!' It doesn't matter what people like now. The first Monday after we aired on Sunday, they hated it. And then six months later, people would say, 'Why don't they do good shows like they did with [the black puppet] Franklin?' Realistically, if you're going to really try to do something different and confound expectations, you're going to lose some people and gain some people."
The reaction to the new episodes reminds Hurwitz of what Radiohead experienced in 2000. "There was a long lapse of time after they released OK Computer," he says. "And then Kid A came out and everybody was like, 'We don't like this. We don't like this.' And then later they came around to thinking it was even better than OK Computer. Also, it's difficult to make this comparison because it sounds self-aggrandizing and I don't mean it that way, but I remember when The Godfather II came out. People were like, 'What? What is this? I want to see The Godfather where they shoot people, not this thing where they talk about Cuba.'"
Plans are obviously in flux at the moment, but Hurwitz's ultimate goal is to make an Arrested Development movie and then another season of the show. "The whole thing is sort of unprecedented," he says. "It's always been its own little thing. I kind of feel like the more it stays original, the better chance it has. As soon as it goes back to trying to do exactly what it was before, you run the risk of doing a reunion show or something."