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As expected, Demimonde will not be moving forward at HBO.
The series, which marked the first original created by J.J. Abrams since Fringe in 2008, has officially been passed over by the premium cable network following issues surrounding the show’s sprawling budget.
Sources tell THR that Abrams made a last-ditch plea to HBO/HBO Max boss Casey Bloys to spare the drama from cancellation. Bloys took the week to consider, but ultimately the decision was made to part ways with the series for which Abrams had sought a budget north of $200 million. By comparison, HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon clocked in at less than $200 million. Abrams was also slated to direct the pilot for Demimonde, which had already changed showrunners since it landed at HBO in 2018 following a bidding war with Apple.
Demimonde, starring Danielle Deadwyler (Station Eleven, Watchmen), will now be shopped by producers Warner Bros. Television to streamers including Apple and Netflix — platforms where Abrams has other shows in the works. Apple, where Abrams also had Little Voice and limited series Lisey’s Story, is considered a natural home for Demimonde. Apple, it’s worth noting, strongly pursued an overall deal with Bad Robot, though sources at the time suggested Abrams turned down a pact rumored to be worth $500 million because of its exclusivity.
News that Demimonde has been axed at HBO arrives as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has been taking a hard look at all of the studio’s rich overall deals. Sources say the executive, who has been tasked with trimming $3 billion from the newly merged company, has been unhappy with the lack of output from Abrams and his Bad Robot banner’s $250 million overall deal that was signed back in 2019.
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 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.
Demimonde is not the first Bad Robot show to get the pass from HBO/HBO Max. The streamer last year also dropped Overlook, with the spinoff of sorts from The Shining having landed at Netflix after Warners shopped the series. Overlook was one of the first three shows Abrams and Bad Robot set up in April 2020 under the company’s sprawling overall deal. The series remains uncast and has no timeline for a premiere.
In addition to Demimonde and Overlook, Abrams has multiple TV projects in the works under the companywide deal with Warner Bros. Discovery. At HBO/Max, Bad Robot is behind the adult animated Batman series, Subject to Change, Fledgeling, Josh Holloway drama Duster and the DC Comics-based Justice League Dark franchise that features Constantine (in the works since early 2021) and Madame X (picked up last June). Sources say Warners has the bulk of the scripts for Constantine and the pilot for Madame X, though neither show has been cast. Other projects include a U2 scripted series for Netflix and Apple’s Presumed Innocent, Jennifer Garner vehicle My Glory Was I Had Such Friends and the long-gestating but recently announced Speed Racer. Abrams and Bad Robot, which he runs with his partner and wife, Katie McGrath, also has the fourth season of HBO’s Westworld coming soon and a sprawling film slate that features titles for WBD, Netflix and Paramount. Bad Robot has also expanded into video games and podcasts as it continues its evolution into a multimedia company.
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