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Overlook is on the move.
Sources say HBO Max has passed on the J.J. Abrams-produced spinoff of sorts from The Shining, with the drama about the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction being shopped by producers Warner Bros. Television. The property, which is based on the iconic hotel featured in the 1977 novel by Stephen King and subsequent 1980 feature from Stanley Kubrick, is expected to be snapped up soon given its Bad Robot pedigree and premise featuring characters from the beloved horror thriller. Sources say Netflix is among the bidders for the series and is considered the frontrunner to land the project.
Overlook was one of the first three shows Abrams and his Bad Robot banner set up at HBO Max under the production company’s $250 million overall deal with parent WarnerMedia. While HBO Max announced all three had received “production commitments” — aka series pickups — sources note that Overlook has remained in the development stages with a series commitment penalty. That means that if the series does not find a home, Bad Robot will be financially compensated as if it had. Overlook was greenlit by former HBO Max content chief Kevin Reilly in April 2020, joining original idea Duster and aspiring DC Comics franchise Justice League Dark. Justice League Dark, meanwhile, has already spawned development of Constantine and Madame X shows, while Duster has a formal series pickup and recently reunited Abrams with Lost leading man Josh Holloway, who will star in the original series.
Sources say WarnerMedia brass has opted to focus Abrams and Bad Robot’s energy on IP/franchises for HBO Max — like Justice League Dark — and other collaborations, including HBO’s Demimonde and Max’s Subject to Change. Both of those dramas are based on original ideas from Abrams and have formal series orders. Sources tell THR that Abrams will now direct the pilot for Demimonde, the sci-fi drama that marks the first show he has created since Fringe for Fox in 2008. Demimonde, which landed at HBO following a bidding war with Apple, has already changed showrunners after being picked up to series in early 2018.
Since signing the massive overall deal with WarnerMedia in September 2019, Bad Robot has been aggressively ramping up its TV slate. Other projects in the works include an adult animated Batman series that reunites Abrams with his Felicity collaborator and friend Matt Reeves (who is behind The Batman feature film). Outside of DC Comics fare, Bad Robot exec produced Apple’s Lisey’s Story (alongside author King), has a UFO docuseries at Showtime and continues to exec produce Westworld for HBO. Bad Robot also exec produced HBO’s Lovecraft Country, which was canceled after one season and went on to earn 18 Emmy nominations. In July, Bad Robot signed on to produce an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s novel Fledgling with a pair of Lovecraft Country alums for HBO. All of the scripted series are produced by Warner Bros. TV, Abrams’ longtime small-screen home. Bad Robot also exec produced Apple’s Little Voice, which sources tell THR has been canceled after one season.
Abrams and his wife and Bad Robot partner, Katie McGrath, spent nearly a year taking meetings all over town as they considered all options for their new expansive overall deal. Sources say Apple offered Bad Robot a $500 million deal, but the company opted to stay at WarnerMedia with a five-year deal that kept Abrams at his TV home since 2006 while also adding a film component for the first time. It’s worth noting that Abrams and Bad Robot are also producing a new Superman film, which will feature a Black lead, for DC and Warners’ film arm via the all-encompassing deal.
Reps for Bad Robot, HBO, HBO Max and Warner Bros. TV declined to comment.
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William Jackson Harper
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