'Billions,' the new drama Wall Street is going to be obsessed with, just became Showtime's best performing premiere ever

Andrew Ross Sorkin HatBusiness InsiderAndrew Ross Sorkin at Davos a few years ago.

“Billions,” Showtime’s new show about high-power Wall Street exeutives and hedge fund managers, just premiered to three million viewers, making it the network’s most successful pilot of all time.

So when we ran into Andrew Ross Sorkin, the show’s co-creator, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this morning, he was all smiles.

That 3 million number includes people who DVRed the episode and watched it on demand in the two weeks prior to the show’s pilot, a new strategy Showtime has been using to hook viewers early in the hopes that they will later subscribe and continue watching. Showtime used the same tactic with its hit show “The Affair.”

Sorkin gave us a few nuggets about how the show was made and what lies ahead.

  • Sorkin says he and the other writers will know in about one month if the show gets greenlit for a second season, at which point they will have to get back to writing the episodes.
  • Sorkin was involved in everything from casting to writing.
  • He and the writers have about three seasons outlined in what he calls the “bible” for Billions.
  • We asked Sorkin about the premiere’s opening S&M scene. Sorkin says that came about because his co-writers also wrote a movie called, “The Girlfriend Experience,” which focused on escort services. As part of the research for that movie, the writers learned that people in powerful positions like to be dominated. And because the writers are always looking to add unique angles to their characters, they thought it could fit in the show. Although Sorkin acknowledges that the graphic scene may have been a jarring start to the show for some viewers.

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