Netflix Series ‘Better Than Us’ to Get China-Backed Indie-Produced Second Season (EXCLUSIVE)

Patrick Frater
·2-min read

A team of Russian, U.S and Greater China producers is to give a second season to “Better Than Us,” a sci-fi series that was launched as a Netflix Original.

The first season tells the tale of a unique, AI-powered, family robot, with the ability to defend itself. When it goes missing, it is sought by Moscow homicide detectives and the ruthless corporation which tried to acquire it.

“We didn’t plan to go to China in season two, but the show lends itself perfectly to be told in Mandarin and be based in China, because in season one we reveal it’s the Chinese who designed Arisa, the AI robot with ‘free will’ against three Azimov’s rules. And now that Cronos Corp has messed things up, Chinese creators want what’s left of their incredible creation, not without purpose,” says the series’ Russia-based showrunner Alex Kessel (Amazon’s “Londongrad”).

His Sputnik Vostok company has teamed with Steve Chicorel’s Taiwan-based Organic Media Group, and with Gao Qun’s Mainland China-based Wudi Pictures (aka WD Pictures) for a deal that leverages streaming rights in Greater China. Netflix does not operate in mainland China, which creates the opportunity for rights holders to approach the market independently. (Recent animated feature “Over The Moon” went straight to streaming on Netflix in most of the world, but it was co-produced with China’s Pearl Studio which chose to launch it in China with a theatrical release.)

“Netflix has no involvement in the second season of ‘Better Than Us’,” a Netflix spokesman told Variety.

After years of shunning the genre, officials in China have in the last two years made a call for more Chinese-themed sci-fi content. The second season of “Better Than Us” is expected to make use of a pre-existing China government-approved coproduction agreement for a sci-fi project involving Gao and Chicorel.

The trio are now structuring “Better Than Us” season two as a 10-episode series which will shoot in Beijing and Moscow early in the third quarter of 2021. They are simultaneously in negotiations with Chinese streaming platforms to secure financial backing and a broadcast date.

“Attuned to the sci-fi market for all these years, when Gao Qun and I watched this series we knew this sort of story would be a match in terms of market and government censorship. Thanks to the brilliance of Alex Kessel we now are in discussion with numerous China streamers to acquire the ongoing series”, said Chicorel.

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