HBO 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, which was supposed to be Abrams’ first solo television creation since his original hit Alias, has now been dropped from production by HBO’s chief content officer Casey Bloys.
The reason for HBO’s decision was attributed to rising costs, which saw the planned budget for the first season of Demimonde soar to over $200 million, and given that the studio spent less than that on the entire run of the new game. Of Thrones. spin-off, House of the Dragon (opens in new tab)the broadcasting giant hesitated over the cost.
Abrams is now free to take the project elsewhere and is expected to start talking to streaming services in an attempt to resurrect it. When the show sold in 2018, HBO surpassed Apple (opens in new tab) by rights, so you imagine the latter might be Abrams’ first port of call…
What was Demimonde going to be?
Well, there are conflicting reports, but we were slated to be in classic sci-fi territory.
HBO’s series summary 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 ripped 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 another dark and distant world. “
This is slightly different from the original program description given to the Hollywood Reporter in 2018 (opens in new tab)who said he would follow “…a family – consisting of a mother who works as a scientist, her husband and her daughter – who suffer a terrible car accident. After the mother ends up in a coma, her daughter starts digging through her experiments in the basement and ends up being transported to another world in the midst of a battle against a monstrous and oppressive force. Her father then follows her into this new world.”
Anyway, Danielle Deadwyler, Netflix star (opens in new tab)The Harder They Fall and HBO Station’s Dystopian Drama Eleven (opens in new tab)was supposed to lead the way as Reed, with no other cast members on board yet.
We may never know unless Abrams finds a buyer — he’s made over seven billion dollars at the box office, mind you, so you’d imagine it might be worth a meeting.
Analysis: Is JJ Abrams’ power waning?
Whatever happens to Demimonde, Abrams will be a very busy man.
He just created a new version of Speed Racer with Apple TV Plus (opens in new tab), where he is also overseeing Presumed Innocent, a new partnership with David E. Kelley of Big Little Lies. Abrams is also signed to deliver a biopic about rockers U2 to Netflix and is developing a 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 aren’t ignoring their calls.
More likely, this is HBO looking at its swing and getting cold feet. The network is spending a huge amount on its new adaptation of The Last Of Us, (opens in new tab) which is set to cost over $150 million, and has just spent an eye-watering sum to make House of The Dragon.
The network’s two hits, Euphoria (opens in new tab) and Succession (opens in new tab)are booked for their third and fourth seasons, respectively, and talent for these shows, with their great casts, will get much more expensive.
Warner Media, HBO’s parent company, has now merged with Discovery, and several industry reports say new CEO David Zaslav is looking closely at the company’s balance sheet. Not spending more than $200 million on a sci-fi series with no hit book or graphic novel behind it was probably an easy decision in light of this.