10:55am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Swamp Thing' Order Reduced as DC Universe's Role in WarnerMedia Streaming Plans Unclear
Swamp Thing is going to spend a bit less time in the swamp.
Producers Warner Bros. Television have reduced the order for the scripted drama series based on the comics created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the original 13-episode order for the project has been cut to 10 after experiencing creative differences with its home at Warners-backed streaming platform DC Universe. The series will stick with its planned May 31 premiere date, as illustrated by a teaser posted by recurring player Ian Ziering (watch, below).
Warners and DC Universe declined comment.
The news of the episode reduction happens to come as DC Universe parent company WarnerMedia is plotting a larger direct-to-consumer streaming platform. The OTT service, expected to launch in the fourth quarter, will feature scripted originals, as well as content from corporate siblings HBO, Turner's TBS and TNT, among others. The platform will be overseen by former NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt and Turner's Kevin Reilly as WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey makes the streaming effort a top goal for the company.
WarnerMedia has yet to reveal its larger plans for its streaming platform, which will compete with fellow upstarts Disney+ (set to launch Nov. 12) and Apple (due in the fall), as well as Comcast (slated for 2020). Disney+ unveiled its streaming plans last week during a nearly four-hour presentation to investors that impressed both Hollywood and Wall Street. Its platform will feature hubs for Marvel, Disney and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) content on its home screen. That presentation set a very high bar for WarnerMedia, which considers DC Comics among its crown jewels.
The idea of having dueling streaming services — even though DC Universe is considered a niche platform — could be a potential wrinkle for WarnerMedia. DC Universe — which does not release subscriber numbers — features a massive library of comics via its proprietary comic reader, which could pose a problem if its parent company wants to fold that service in with its larger OTT service. The addition of the comic library was designed to help DC Universe take on Marvel Unlimited. Also unclear is if DC Universe content would be exclusive to that platform before it hits WarnerMedia's unnamed service and if the DC label could be an additional monthly charge on top of a base fee.
For now, it's business as usual at DC Universe, which recently expanded its availability to Xbox users. Next up, it has the animated series Harley Quinn and Young Justice: Outsiders poised to join a scripted roster that includes Titans (already renewed for season two) and the critically praised Doom Patrol. Also ordered to series at the platform are Geoff Johns' Stargirl, which is expected in 2020.
Swamp Thing hails from co-writers/co-showrunners Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Galactica) and Gary Dauberman (It and its forthcoming sequel). Len Wiseman will executive produces and directed the pilot. James Wan (Aquaman) — who was once rumored to be directing the pilot — will exec produce alongside his Atomic Monster banner topper Michael Clear, with the company's Rob Hackett set as a co-exec producer. Verheiden and Dauberman also will exec produce.
Andy Bean and Derek Mears will play both sides of the DC antihero. Bean (It: Chapter 2) will play Alec Holland, the biologist who transforms into the Swamp Thing after discovering a strange illness may be connected to his work with the swamp. Mears (Sleepy Hollow) will play the creature that emerges after Holland's accident. Crystal Reed, Maria Sten, Jeryl Prescott, Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Henderson Wade and Kevin Durand round out the series-regular cast. Madsen first signaled news of Swamp Thing's episode reduction in a since-deleted Instagram post captured by the Wilmington, North Carolina-based Star News Online: "I'm beyond sad. What a terrible decision. We have been cut to the core by those who have never set foot into the Swamp."