Long-term pregnancy from HBO Max Green Lantern TV series are changing.
The drama in the works since late 2019 now focuses on John Stewart, one of DC’s first black superheroes. The series, from exec producer Greg Berlanti, was originally going to center on Guy Gardner and Alan Scott and already featured Finn Wittrock (Ratched) and Jeremy Irvine (tread) as the respective Green Lanterns.
As part of the creative overhaul, writer and showrunner Seth Grahame-Smith has left the series after completing scripts for a full eight-episode season. Sources say Grahame-Smith, who signed on as a writer and showrunner a year later Green Lantern was announced chose to leave the project after a number of regime changes at HBO Max, its parent company, producers Warner Bros. Television and now DC Comics.
The decision to reorient Green Lantern comes at a pivotal time for DC. Sources say John Stewart’s character was off the table to producers envisioning the show as targeting the first Green Lantern, the openly gay Alan Scott and Guy Gardner, as well as a “crowd of other Lanterns—from comic book favorites to never-before-seen heroes.” With the recent departure of DC Comics superstar Walter Hamada, it was decided to start over and build the show around John Stewart, the character who first appeared in the early 1970s and was modeled after Sidney Poitier. the Green Lantern creative overhaul has nothing to do with the news this week that James Gunn and Peter Safran have been recruited to lead film, TV and animation at DC Studios in a role similar to what Kevin Feige does at Marvel. (Gunn and Safran won’t start their new jobs until November 1)
From the previous incarnation, only Berlanti and his on Warner Bros. TV based Berlanti Productions affiliated with Green Lantern. (Co-exec producer Marc Guggenheim, who was originally poised to co-write the pilot with Grahame-Smith, was not recently involved with the show prior to its retooling.)
When HBO Max announced plans for: Green Lantern in October 2019, Berlanti described it as the “greatest DC show ever made,” with plans for the series to go to space. Insiders at the time said it would be the most expensive show DC has ever made and easily the biggest for HBO Max with an estimated budget of $120 million. (House of the Dragon, for comparison, cost less than $200 million.)
The show’s budget is expected to be significantly lower as HBO Max, under David Zaslav’s combined Warner Bros. Discovery, focuses on the correct size of different assets. As part of the move to find an estimated $3 billion in cost savings, Zaslav and his division leaders dropped a number of projects, including Berlanti’s planned Strange Adventures anthology for HBO Max, the original HBO series by JJ Abrams demi-monde and the already completed batgirl feature film. (In front of demi-monde, HBO allegedly refused Abrams’ request for a budget north of $200 million.)
WBD said in an SEC filing this week it expects to take $2 billion to $2.5 billion in tax write-offs related to content. The eight previously completed Green Lantern scripts are expected to be included in those tax write-offs, as sources claim it wasn’t Grahame-Smith’s creative who ultimately doomed the show’s first incarnation, but rather its price tag.
As for Wittrock and Irvine, neither stay signed in Green Lantern. Sources indicate that Berlanti Productions would like to work with both actors as and when the project, which currently has a script-to-series commitment, moves forward. In the spring of 2021, when Wittrock and Irvine were cast, the show was still speeding up and would begin filming that same year. The project is now on a slower, more HBO-esque development trajectory under Bloys and Warner Bros. TV topper Channing Dungey. A new logline for the series has not yet been established as the project is back in early development.
Representatives from HBO Max, Warners, Berlanti Productions and Grahame-Smith declined to comment.
The HBO Max take is Berlanti’s second foray into the world of Green Lantern. He previously wrote the screenplay (along with Michael Green, Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg) for the 2011 DC-produced Ryan Reynolds starrer. That film received negative reviews and was considered a flop. It grossed $219 million versus a $200 million budget.