Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Kiernan Shipka) will have another famous face to call family: Lord of the Rings actress Miranda Otto has been cast in the role of Aunt Zelda on the as-yet-untitled Netflix series based on Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics.
Otto, who more recently appeared on Homeland and 24: Legacy, will be "Sabrina's sterner witch aunt. Proud and devout, Zelda believes there is no greater honor than serving the Dark Lord as a member of the Church of Night. She is the family's disciplinarian, fiercely protective of Sabrina, and very much Cain to Hilda's Abel."
The original title for Sabrina was The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, back when it was in development at The CW rather than Netflix. The series later headed to Netflix, where it got a two-season commitment.
Two conclusions fans and press have drawn are that Netflix provides a more uncensored environment for what is expected to be a horror-tinged take on the property; and that The CW has had some difficulty making room in its lineup for new series over the last few years, with a string of successes meaning that very few current shows are getting cancelled to make way for the new.
The network, which is co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros. Television, has had a string of high-profile hits from the WB side, which means CBS properties are a bit easier to develop. As a lucky bonus for Warner, distribution through Netflix rather than The CW would mean the studio could retain ownership of Sabrina rather than sharing it with CBS.
Netflix is also the home of Riverdale in some international markets where The CW does not have a presence. It has proven to be a success on Netflix both at home and abroad, and ratings in the series' second season have been consistently much higher than what the show enjoyed during its freshman year.