HBO has pulled the plug on Demimonde, the new big-budget sci-fi drama from director JJ Abrams.
According to the Hollywood reporter (opens in new tab)Demimonde, who would be Abrams’ first television solo creation since his original hit Alias, has now been pulled from production by HBO’s Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys.
The rationale for HBO’s decision is due to rising costs, pushing the planned budget for Demimonde’s first season to over $200 million, and given that the studio has spent less than that on the entire series of new releases. Game of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon (opens in new tab)the broadcasting giant shunned the charges.
Abrams is now free to take the project elsewhere and is expected to begin talks with streaming services in an effort to revive it. When the show sold in 2018, HBO surpassed Apple (opens in new tab) for the rights, so you could imagine the latter may well be Abrams’ first port of call…
What would Demimonde be about?
Well, there are conflicting reports, but we would be in classic science fiction territory.
HBO’s recap of the show only lists it as “an epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama,” while Deadline reports (opens in new tab) that the series would be built around “Olive Reed, who is snatched from her husband and daughter in a brutal scientific accident. She is forced to unravel a conspiracy to reunite with her family, now lost in a dark, distant other world. “
This is a slight change from the original description of the show, which was given to the Hollywood Reporter in 2018 (opens in new tab)who said it would follow “…a family – consisting of a mother who works as a scientist, her husband and their young daughter – all of whom are in a terrible car accident. After the mother ends up in a coma, her daughter starts hitting her Digging through experiments in the basement and eventually being transported to another world amid a battle against a monstrous oppressive force, her father then follows her into this new world.”
Anyway, Danielle Deadwyler, star of Netflix (opens in new tab)‘s The Harder They Fall and HBO’s dystopian drama Station Eleven (opens in new tab)would lead the way as Reed, with no other cast members on board yet.
We may never know unless Abrams can find a buyer – he’s made more than $7 billion at the box office, so you’d think it might be worth a meeting.
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Whatever happens to Demimonde, Abrams will be very busy.
He just launched a new take on Speed Racer with Apple TV Plus (opens in new tab), where he also oversees Presumed Innocent, a new team that includes Big Little Lies’ David E. Kelley. Abrams is also booked to deliver a biopic about rockers U2 for Netflix and developing new DC series (opens in new tab)Justice League Dark and Duster for HBO Max, as well as a new take on John Constantine.
All this suggests that TV executives are not ignoring his phone calls.
More likely this is HBO looking at their balance and getting cold feet. The network is spending a huge amount on their new adaptation of The Last Of Us, (opens in new tab) which is expected to cost over $150 million, and has just dropped a dazzling amount of money to make House of The Dragon.
The Network’s Two Breakthrough Hits, Euphoria (opens in new tab) and follow-up (opens in new tab)are booked for their third and fourth seasons respectively, and the talent for those shows, with their large ensemble casts, will be a lot more expensive.
Warner Media, HBO’s parent company, has now merged with Discovery, and multiple industry reports say new CEO David Zaslav is taking a close look at the company’s balance sheet. In light of that, spending no more than $200 million on a sci-fi series without a hit book or graphic novel was probably an easy decision.