HBO is pulling the plug on J.J. Abrams’ expensive sci-fi drama series “Denimonde” as parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is taking a scalpel to its bloated Hollywood production deals.
HBO top brass killed the project, starring “Station Eleven” actress Danielle Deadwyler, after Abrams asked for a budget of more than $200 million, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.
The sky-high budget irked Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Casey Bloys, boss of HBO and HBO Max, as it exceeded the budget of the network’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of Dragon,” which will cost less than $200 million.
Abrams, known for directing movies like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and creating shows like “Alias,” inked a $250 million overall deal for Bad Robot with Warner Bros. in September 2019. But Bad Robot hasn’t made much content for HBO, HBO Max or the Warner Bros. movie studio.
The report said “Demimonde” will now be shopped to streamers including Apple and Netflix, where Abrams already has shows in the works. Apple strongly pursued Bad Robot, but The Hollywood Reporter said Abrams turned down the deal — rumored to be worth $500 million — due to exclusivity rights.
The lack of content to HBO and HBO Max has created a bottleneck for both the premium cable network and streamer, making it hard to plan for budgets for marketing and other things. Multiple Bad Robot projects for the company do not have delivery plans.
In 2020, Bad Robot executive produced “Lovecraft Country,” which only lasted one season, but not much else has come to fruition. Currently, Abrams has a slew of projects in the works under its rich deal with WarnerBros. Discovery, including an animated adult “Batman” series, a thriller called “Subject to Change” and “Duster,” a crime drama.
Abrams is also is busy with projects for rivals, including a U2 scripted series that the studio is producing for Netflix, and Apple’s “Presumed Innocent” from prolific writer David E. Kelly.
He is also working on a new “Star Trek” movie for rival studio Paramount Global as the WarnerBros. Discovery was did not include exclusivity.