J.J. Abrams is 'hopeful' that Fringe will live to see season 5

As with most TV shows, the future of Fringe is likely to come down to one simple factor: money. It's a pricey show that's not turning a profit for FOX, so costs have to be cut somewhere if it's to survive. So will the show make it? J.J. Abrams thinks so.

"Sources" told TV Line over the weekend that all the parties involved are in discussions right now to decide the show's fate, but the party who has the most influence on the future of Fringe right now isn't who you might think. It's not FOX. It's the TV division at Warner Bros.

See, the show is produced by Warner Bros., who then charges a licensing fee to FOX to put the show on the air. The ideal situation would be for FOX to turn a profit based on the show's ad revenues, but that's not happening. That means the only way airing the show would still be cost-effective for FOX would be to get a reduced licensing fee.

Whether that happens is entirely up to Warner Bros., but TV Line's Michael Ausiello believes the licensing fee would have to be "drastically" reduced to make the show renewable at this point. It might sound silly for Warner Bros. to just slash its own revenue like that to keep the showing going, but there's something in it for them too. Five seasons is generally enough to get any network series to that magic 100-episode number, and 100 episodes of a series is generally enough to justify syndication. That means more money from the show for Warner Bros. in the long run.

So for the TV execs who hold the fate of Fringe in their hands, it's all a matter of weighing costs and revenues, both short- and long-term. But what about the show's creators? How do they feel about all this?

All J.J. Abrams had to say on the matter was "We remain hopeful that Fringe will be able to continue." But Abrams isn't very close to the series these days, what with shooting his Star Trek sequel and talking up his new show, Alcatraz. As for executive producer Jeff Pinkner, he's not really speaking about whether he thinks the show will make it. But even if it doesn't, Fringe's writers have a plan.

"Worst-case scenario, if this were the last aired season of Fringe ... we know what the end of this season is going to be, and it can function as a series finale," he said.

So Fringe is still in limbo, the creators are planning for the worst while hoping for the best, and the bigwigs are crunching the numbers. All fans can do is wait and hope.

(Via TV Line)

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