HBO has plugged the plug on Demimonde, the new big-budget science fiction drama by director JJ Abrams.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, (opens in new tab)Demimonde, which was to be Abrams’ first solo television creation since its original hit Alias, has now been pulled from production by HBO’s Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys.
The reason for HBO’s decision was put down to spiraling costs, which saw the planned budget for Demimonde’s first season climb to more than $ 200 million, and considering the studio spent less than that for the entire new run. Game Of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon (opens in new tab)the broadcast giant wavered at the cost.
Abrams is now allowed to take the project elsewhere and is expected to begin negotiations with streaming services to try to revive it. When the show went on sale in 2018, HBO oversold apple (opens in new tab) for the rights, so you would imagine that the latter may well be Abrams’ first port of call …
What was Demimonde about?
Well, there are conflicting reports, but we were ready to be in classic science fiction territory.
HBO’s summary 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 was to be built around “Olive Reed, who is torn away from her husband and daughter in a brutal science accident. She is forced to unravel a plot to reunite with her family, now lost to a dark, distant other world.”
This is a slight change from the original description of the show, given to the Hollywood Reporter back in 2018 (opens in new tab)who said it would follow “… a family – consisting of a mother working as a scientist, her husband and their young daughter – who all get into a terrible car accident. After the mother ends up in a coma, her daughter begins digging through her experiments in the cellar and ends up being transported to another world in the middle of a battle against a monstrous, oppressive force. Her father then follows her into that new world. “
Either way, Danielle Deadwyler, star of Netflix (opens in new tab)‘s The Harder They Fall and HBO’s dystopian drama Station Eleventh (opens in new tab)had to lead the way as Reed did, with no other cast members on board yet.
We may never know unless Abrams can find a buyer – he made more than seven billion dollars at the box office, mind you, so you’d think it might be worth a meeting.
Analysis: Is JJ Abrams’ power declining?
Whatever happens to Demimonde, Abrams will be a very busy man.
He has just set up a new treatment Speed Racer with Apple TV Plus (opens in new tab), where he also oversees Presumed Innocent, a new team with Big Little Lies’ David E. Kelley. Abrams has also been commissioned to deliver a U2 rocker biofilm for Netflix and is developing new DC series (opens in new tab)Justice League Dark and Duster for HBO Max, as well as a new treatment by John Constantine.
All of this suggests that TV executives are not ignoring his phone calls.
More likely, this is HBO looking at its balance sheet and cooling off. The network is spending a huge amount for its new adaptation of The Last of Us, (opens in new tab) which is expected to cost more than $ 150 million, and recently dropped a hefty sum to make House of the Dragon.
The two explosive successes of the network, Euphoria (opens in new tab) and Sequence (opens in new tab)are commissioned for their third and fourth seasons respectively, and the talent for those shows, with their large ensemble casts, will become 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 for a science fiction series without a bestseller or graphic novel behind it was probably an easy decision in light of that.