AMC announced today that its newest original series, Hell on Wheels, begins production on Mon., May 16, in Calgary. Hell on Wheels is a contemporary Western that centers on former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon, portrayed by Anson Mount, whose quest for vengeance has led him to the Union Pacific Railroad’s westward construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Developed by Endemol USA and produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and Nomadic Pictures, Hell on Wheels is created, written, and executive-produced by Joe and Tony Gayton (Faster, Uncommon Valor, The Salton Sea, Bulletproof). The series is slated to premiere in the fourth quarter of 2011. (Check out the first-look video of Hell on Wheels above.)
Hell on Wheels underscores the network’s commitment to the Western, following its first original mini-series event, Broken Trail. The mini-series premiere, in Jun. 2006, was the second-most-watched cable movie since 1995 and delivered the network record ratings, including an average 7.7 household rating and nearly 10 million total viewers over its two-night airing.*
“AMC’s commitment to the Western is long-standing, and the genre is an important part of our brand and history as a channel,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC. “In Hell on Wheels, AMC is creating another epic and enduring American story.”
In addition to Mount (City by the Sea, Cook County, ABC’s Line of Fire), Hell on Wheels stars musician-actor Common (Just Wright, Date Night) as Elam, Dominique McElligott (Moon, The Philanthropist) as Lily Bell, Colm Meaney (The Conspirator, Get Him to the Greek) as Durant, Ben Esler (The Pacific) as Sean, Phil Burke (Mercy) as Mickey, and Eddie Spears (Into the West) as Joseph.
Hell on Wheels tells the epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on a Confederate soldier (Mount) who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who have killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a dangerous, raucous, lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time. The series documents the railroad’s engineering and construction as well as institutionalized greed and corruption, the immigrant experience, and the plight of newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction. Hell on Wheels chronicles this potent turning point in our nation’s history and how uncivilized the business of civilization can be.
Joining the Gaytons as executive producers are Jeremy Gold, Endemol’s SVP of scripted programming, and John Shiban and David Von Ancken, who directed the series pilot. eOne’s CEO, John Morayniss, and SVP of creative affairs, Michael Rosenberg, oversee production in partnership with producers Mike Frislev and Chad Oakes at Nomadic Pictures.
Shot on location in Alberta, Canada, the series is produced with assistance from the government of Alberta’s film-development program.
AMC’s Joel Stillerman, SVP of original programming, production, and digital content; Susie Fitzgerald, SVP of scripted programming; and Jason Fisher, SVP of production, oversee series production for the network.
Endemol holds all television distribution rights across Europe, with eOne selling Hell on Wheels in all remaining territories. As a leading international content distributor, eOne also handles worldwide rights for DVD, Blu-ray, video on demand, and digital distribution.
*Source: Nielsen, 1/2/95-6/26/06. Ranking based on HH delivery (000) among all individual movie telecasts on all cable networks (ad supported, pay, and other).