Production and scheduling hiccups have kept “Hannah Sweeney” fans in suspense multiple times in recent years, with questions swirling about the future of Hallmark‘s popular mystery series starring Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison. But as sleuthers prepare to watch the first new “Hannah” movie in two years, set to premiere this weekend, they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that another movie is already in the works.
While promoting “Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery” which premieres on May 19, 2023, Sweeney made a surprising disclosure, revealing that another movie is coming and providing details on what it will be about. Here’s what you need to know:
Alison Sweeney Reveals Premise of Next ‘Hannah Swensen’ Movie
The latest movie in the “Hannan Swensen” series is based on the novel “Carrot Cake Murder” by Joanne Fluke, who has written over 30 books featuring the mystery-solving baker since 2000. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries adapted five of Fluke’s books for a series of “Murder, She Baked” movies between 2015 and 2017, with Sweeney starring as Hannah and Mathison appearing as her fiancé, Detective Mike Kingston.
Four years after the last movie in that series aired, Hallmark rebranded the franchise as “Hannah Swensen Mysteries” and released a new movie, “Sweet Revenge,” in August 2021 with Sweeney and Mathison.
“To be honest, there were a lot of behind-the-scenes complications that made it take a long time to bring it all together,” Sweeney explained to Cinema Blend before it aired. “And it just was so exciting once we got through all the red tape to be able to make it happen.”
But then “Hannah Swensen Mysteries” disappeared again, with fans and its stars hoping for more. In October 2022, Sweeney told Us Weekly she was eager to make another installment of the series, but didn’t know yet if it was part of Hallmark’s plans.
But by late February, ET Online confirmed that she and Mathison had reunited in Vancouver to shoot their seventh “Hannah Swensen” movie. In the latest mystery, once again set in the fictional town of Lake Eden, Minnesota, the discovery of a skeleton in the rubble of a building under renovation leads people to realize one of the town’s most beloved citizens isn’t who he claims to be. So, naturally, Hannah can’t keep herself from investigating.
In an interview published on May 17 with TV Fanatic, Sweeney — who now also serves as executive producer of the “Hannah Sweeney” movies — said she and her producing partner, Craig Baumgarten, have already decided on the next movie.
In a bit of a plot twist, Hannah’s mother Delores, played by Barbara Niven, will be the one to find the dead body of a homeowner while she’s house-hunting for her sister. As usual, Hannah will team up with her friend Norman, played by Gabriel Hogan, when she realizes something’s fishy about the victim’s house.
Of the decision to have Niven’s character discover the next victim, Sweeney told TV Fanatic, “We like to mix it up a little bit, but of course the series is based on Hannah (as the one) who finds the dead body. And Delores is the one who’s like, ‘Oh, Hannah!’ as if it’s Hannah’s fault, she seeks it out, which is one of my favorite parts of Barbara Niven playing this role. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it’s one in which Dolores finds the body. I thought that was really funny.”
Sweeney said both movies will showcase Hannah’s intuitive skills and ability to catch what other people miss.
“Her superpower is her gut instinct and her way of communicating with people that gets them to confide in her and tell her things and how she notices things that are misplaced or out of the ordinary or not how it was last time,” she said. “She just has a way about her really picking up on the little details, the nuances. And I think this next mystery is going to have some fun elements like that that are there for the audience to notice, too, if you pay attention. So at the end you’ll be like, ‘Oh, it’s right there in front of me and I didn’t see it!'”
Meanwhile, Mathison said during a Facebook Live session with Niven and Sweeney on May 17 that he is happy that with Mike and Hannah being engaged, their strong relationship makes them an even better detective team.
“That aspect of being a team, it just gets to a deeper level,” he said. “And I think the fact that Hannah and Mike are engaged, there’s a real deep acceptance of what’s gonna happen between the two of them and I love the feeling of that teamwork, kinda almost finishing each others’ sentences.”
Developing Each ‘Hannah Swensen Mystery’ Can Be Complicated
Because the “Hannah Swensen” movies are based on existing books written by Fluke, sometimes that makes the process of developing each film a bit more complicated.
“One of the reasons that led me to this mystery was the idea of it being an older body that they find,” Sweeney told TV Fanatic. “Then we talk to and work with Joanne Fluke about who Hannah is and how her relationships with Mike and Norman and her mother develop, of course; these are her characters.”
“And so in partnership with Hallmark,” she continued, “we have to do a very delicate balance of trying to navigate the trials and tribulations of Hannah’s romantic life, which is definitely a rollercoaster, as well as her complicated relationship with her mother. And while juggling all of that, she also has a murder to solve.”
That movie has not been filmed yet, Sweeney said, but with 30 books to choose from, she said, “I still think there’s so much more fun to have.”
On the May 15 episode of the Halmarkies podcast, Mathison said that he originally signed a contract to do nine “Hannah Sweeney” movies, but never imagined it would take this long. He’s relieved, though, that they seem to be back in full swing.
“There were some hurdles and delays and some hiccups along the way, as we all know,” he said. “But it’s amazing. It’s been an incredible ride. I was definitely hoping we would have lots of them.”
“Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery” premieres on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries this Friday, May 19, at 9 p.m. Eastern time.