Production on HBO's 'Westworld' Shut Down

The highly anticipated J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan drama is still eyed for a 2016 premiere.

Production on HBO's Westworld has been shut down.

The anticipated drama, based on the 1973 film of the same name, is taking a break to allow writers/exec producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy time to catch up on the remaining four scripts of the series' freshman order.

"As we head into the final phase of production on Westworld, we’ve made the decision to take a brief hiatus in order to get ahead of the writing," HBO said Sunday in a statement.

HBO executives remain confident that the show, which counts J.J. Abrams among its exec producers, is set to premiere this year. Production was scheduled to wrap in November. The series will resume production in March, sources say.

The ambitious project, which was originally eyed to debut in 2015, has been the subject of swirling rumors about a messy process for some time. Asked about those rumblings on the pilot during an interview for a THR cover story last spring, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said, "This is the truth of Westworld. It’s expensive, but not irresponsibly so. The pilot’s really beautiful and really powerful. It was a great starting point. At the same time when you’re doing a series you have to go, OK, what’s the next episode? What’s bringing you in? You can’t just be a spectacle every week. People ultimately are going to get inert to that."

The series, which features an all-star cast — many of whom can play completely different characters, thanks to the show's robot-filled amusement-park concept — remains a big priority for HBO. Sources tell THR that the show's androids, played by castmembers including James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, can be killed off and return with completely different personas, allowing actors to play many characters.

That creative device, one top talent agent said, helped HBO attract a premier cast, which also includes Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright). And unlike the actors on such anthology series as FX's American Horror Story and HBO's own True Detective, which reboot themselves every season, the cast of Westworld is signing multiyear deals.

The Warner Bros. Television drama hails from Abrams and Bryan Burk's Bad Robot Productions, with the duo exec producing alongside the late Jerry Weintraub, Nolan (who directed the pilot) and Joy. Kathy Lingg will co-executive produce, and Athena Wickham is a producer on the drama. Susie Ekins is set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.

HBO has already started marketing Westworld, revealing a first look at the series at Comic-Con in July and airing a teaser trailer in August.

Variety first reported the news.

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