Warner Bros.’ new corporate parent is reportedly unhappy with the returns from the Hollywood studio’s mega-deal with production company Bad Robot, which is helmed by blockbuster director J.J. Abrams.
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 movie studio since.
David Zaslav, the boss of the studio’s newly formed parent WarnerBros. Discovery, is “frustrated by the lack of output” and he’s scrutinizing the lofty $200 million-plus budget for Bad Robot’s upcoming sci-fi drama “Demimonde,” which has been in development since 2018, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Recently, the CEO blasted studio execs for green lighting “Cry Macho,” a Clint Eastwood flop, which grossed a little more than $15.5 million worldwide — despite a reported budget of $33 million. The studio bosses said they made the film because they felt indebted to Eastwood because of the string of hits that he had delivered over his 50-year career with the studio.
Unimpressed, Zaslav reportedly quoted a famous line from the 1996 Tom Cruise hit film “Jerry Maguire.
“It’s not show friends, it’s show business,” Zaslav told them.
“Demimonde,” starring “Station Eleven” actress Danielle Deadwyler, is being produced for HBO, but Zaslav and top brass are irked by the sky-high budget, which is less than HBO’s budget for its upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon,” which is less than $200 million.
A decision on whether the “Demimonde” will move forward is expected to come this week, the publication said.
DC Comics, home to “The Suicide Squad” and “Joker,” has also come under review at the company, the report said, adding that there’s some “frustration” that Abrams has “laid claim to a number of DC characters but has yet to get anything on the air.”
Sources said the media giant has seen scripts for DC”s “Constantine” and the pilot of “Madame X,” which will be produced by Abrams.
But the lack of content to HBO and HBO Max has created a bottleneck for both the premium cable network and streamer, make 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.
Abrams is also working on a new “Star Trek” movie for rival studio Paramount Global as the WarnerBros. Discovery was did not include exclusivity.