The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed what many in the industry expected – HBO has passed on JJ Abrams’s upcoming science-fiction drama series, Demimonde, following disputes over the budget. The series was announced in 2018, a year prior to the Fringe creator’s overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. This is the second Abrams-produced project to be voided after the premium network did not bring The Shining spinoff series Overlook on board.
Talks around the potential series fell apart after Abrams failed to convince HBO/HBO Max’s Casey Bloys that the show was worth its enormous 200 million dollar price tag. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new Warner Bros. Discovery regime could not justify that budget when, in comparison, the highly-anticipated Game of Thrones prequel saga, House of the Dragon, cost considerably less.
Set to star Watchmen and The Harder They Fall actress Danielle Deadwyler, the series followed a young woman’s adventure in a foreign land after tragedy strikes her family. As of now, Deadwyler was the only actor cast with Abrams set to direct the pilot, via The Hollywood Reporter.
Demimonde seems to be another casualty of the new fiscally-taut structure that incoming Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, David Zaslav, is implementing. The Hollywood Reporter confirms Zaslav has been tasked to slice three billion dollars from the company’s budget, and apparently long-gestating series with overblown costs do not fit. Just this past week, HBO Max canceled Ridley Scott’s Raised By Wolves after two seasons, spawning an online campaign for the show to find another home. The merger has also seen other casualties at the Paramount-shared network, the CW.
It appears Abrams’ full plate of other projects and lack of output at Warner may have also played a part in the final decision. According to The Hollywood Reporter, his 250M deal included Abrams’ Bad Robot producing the upcoming animated Batman series, reuniting the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series team; the Josh Holloway (Lost, Colony) vehicle, Duster; and, DC Comics’ Dark Justice League series universe. Away from the WB hub, he has the Netlfix docuseries on musical legends U2 and three projects at Apple, including the recently announced Speed Racer series.
Demimonde is currently looking at other homes, including Netflix and original deal bidder, Apple, via The Hollywood Reporter. Abrams almost signed with the iPhone maker’s platform but opted for HBO at the time because the deal was not exclusive.