JJ Abrams’ Demimond, the first show the prolific producer has written since Fringe In 2008, it is on the bubble at HBO as sources say Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is frustrated by the lack of output from Bad Robot’s $250 million overall deal.
sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the budget for HBO’s demimonde — which has been in the works since 2018 — is a source of contention as Abrams’ Bad Robot is eyeing a spend that’s north of $200 million. By comparison, the budget for HBO’s upcoming game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is less than $200 million.
A decision on whether the sci-fi drama demimonde will move forward is expected to come this week. The series cast Station Eleven and Watchmen alum Danielle Deadwyler in April and sources say studio Warner Bros. TV has reviewed 10 of the eight scripts for the drama that landed at HBO with a straight-to-series order two weeks after being shopped to buyers.
Bad Robot’s rich overall deal with Warner Bros. Discovery is currently not in jeopardy though the lack of output has created a larger discussion about what the newly merged company expects to stem from the pact. Zaslav, sources say, was frustrated with the lack of delivery from the deal that was signed back in September 2019 after Abrams and Bad Robot met with suitors including Apple as they shopped for a rich new pact.
Abrams has multiple projects in the works under the company-wide deal, with demimonde joining an adult animated Batman series that reunites Abrams with his happiness collaborator and friend Matt Reeves (who is behind batman feature films). Abrams and Bad Robot are also working on originals including HBO Max’s Subject to Change. Both of those dramas are based on original ideas from Abrams and have formal series orders. Abrams is directing the pilot for Demimond, which has already changed showrunners. Other projects include a U2 scripted series that the studio is producing for Netflix, Apple’s Presumed Innocent and crime-drama Duster for HBO Max as the production company Abrams runs with partner (and wife) Katie McGrath is also behind HBO Max’s DC Comics-based Justice League Dark franchise, which features shows including Constantine and madame x
Sources say the DC Comics properties have also come under the spotlight. Sources suggest there is some frustration within the halls of Warner Bros. Discovery that Abrams has laid claim to a number of DC characters but has yet to get anything on the air. Sources note Warners has seen scripts for Constantine and the pilot of madame x
Meanwhile, the lack of delivery on content to HBO and HBO Max has created a pipeline issue for both the premium cable network and streamer, making it challenging to plan for budgets for things like marketing. There’s currently no delivery plan for any of Bad Robot’s multiple projects for WBD platforms or for third-party buyers. Abrams, it’s worth noting, is working on a new star trek movie for rival studio Paramount Global as the Warners pact was did not include exclusivity.
In a larger sense, Zaslav is putting all of the studio’s overall deals under the microscope as he looks to trim $3 billion from the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery. Other rich pacts at the studio include Greg Berlanti’s $400 million deal, of which Warners has already seen scores of shows and movies debut on linear and streaming platforms.
Bad Robot, it’s worth noting, has been rapidly expanding into divisions including gaming and podcasting.
Reps for Warner Bros. Discovery and Bad Robot declined comment.