- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
J.J. Abrams’ Demimonde, the first show the prolific producer has written since Fringe in 2008, is on the bubble at HBO as sources say Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is frustrated by the lack of output from Bad Robot’s $250 million overall deal.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the budget for HBO’s Demimonde — which has been in the works since 2018 — is a source of contention. Abrams’ Bad Robot is eyeing a spend that’s north of $200 million. By comparison, the budget for HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is less than $200 million.
A decision on whether the sci-fi drama Demimonde will move forward is expected to come this week. The series cast Station Eleven and Watchmen alum Danielle Deadwyler in April, and sources say studio Warner Bros. TV has reviewed 10 of the eight scripts for the drama that landed at HBO with a straight-to-series order two weeks after being shopped to buyers.
Bad Robot’s rich overall deal with Warner Bros. Discovery is currently not in jeopardy, though the lack of output has created a larger discussion about what the newly merged company expects from the pact. Zaslav, sources say, was frustrated with the lack of delivery from the deal, signed back in September 2019 after Abrams and Bad Robot met with suitors including Apple in search of a rich new pact.
Abrams has multiple projects in the works under the company-wide deal, with Demimonde joining an adult animated Batman series that reunites Abrams with his Felicity collaborator and friend Matt Reeves (who is behind feature film The Batman). Abrams and Bad Robot are also working on originals including HBO Max’s Subject to Change. Both of those dramas are based on original ideas from Abrams and have formal series orders. Abrams is directing the pilot for Demimonde, which has already changed showrunners. Other projects include a U2 scripted series that the studio is producing for Netflix, Apple’s Presumed Innocent and crime drama Duster for HBO Max. The production company Abrams runs with partner (and wife) Katie McGrath is also behind HBO Max’s DC Comics-based Justice League Dark franchise, which features shows including Constantine and Madame X.
Sources suggest there is some additional frustration within the halls of Warner Bros. Discovery that Abrams has laid claim to a number of DC characters but has yet to get anything on the air. Sources note Warners has seen scripts for Constantine and the pilot of Madame X.
Furthermore, the lack of delivery on content to HBO and HBO Max has created a pipeline issue for both the premium cable network and streamer, making it challenging to plan for budgets for things like marketing. There’s currently no delivery plan for any of Bad Robot’s multiple projects for WBD platforms or for third-party buyers. Abrams, it’s worth noting, is working on a new Star Trek movie for rival studio Paramount Global as the Warners pact did not include exclusivity.
In a larger sense, Zaslav is putting all of the studio’s overall deals under the microscope as he looks to trim $3 billion from the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery. Other rich pacts at the studio include Greg Berlanti’s $400 million deal, which has already produced scores of shows and movies on linear and streaming platforms.
Bad Robot, it’s worth noting, has been rapidly expanding into divisions including gaming and podcasting.
Reps for Warner Bros. Discovery and Bad Robot declined comment.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
‘The Idol’ Stars Defend Controversial Show: “We Always Knew We Were Going to Make Something Provocative”
‘Sex and the City’ Star Evan Handler Says Kim Cattrall’s Cameo in ‘And Just Like That’ Is “Great”
RuPaul's Drag Race
Drag Superstars Trixie and Katya on World of Wonder Series ‘UNHhhh’: “This Show Demystifies Drag”
Kristen Welker Named New Moderator of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ as Chuck Todd Set to Exit the Program