What The Heck Is Going On With HBO’s Westworld?


Westworld HBO

I thought long and hard about using a question mark at the end of the headline above; my instinct was to use an exclamation point to show the seriousness of the situation, but as nobody seems to know what’s going on I made the controversial decision to pop in a question mark. Based on the book by Michael Crichton, Westworld is an ambitious project even by HBO’s high standards.

From producer J.J Abrams and showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Foy, Westworld boasts an all-star cast that includes Ed Harris (as The Man In Black), Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and James Marsden. The series was originally due to broadcast summer 2015; those plans were put on the back burner when production was halted to punch up the final batch of scripts. Not an uncommon thing to happen in TV land, but no anticipated launch date was given, and HBO didn’t hide the fact that there had been production problems.

“Westworld is wildly ambitious — on the page and on set in broadcast TV, it’s been routine for us to write and shoot at the same time. This is a completely different animal. As we got closer to the final episodes, we realized we needed to take a break from shooting to catch up on writing. HBO and WBTV have been incredibly supportive throughout the process. It would have been literally impossible to make this show anywhere else.” – Jonathan Nolan

One report claims that Westworld is nearly good to go, and HBO are planning to launch it shortly after Game of Thrones returns in the Spring. Sounds good, right? Clearly we were worried about nothing. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the problems are more severe, and production won’t resume until March.

Here’s what THR said;

“Late last year, HBO stopped work on the pricey J.J. Abrams-produced Westworld, based on a popular sci-fi book series and with an enormous cast including Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris. Initially produced with Warners’ TV production arm, HBO took back control after what sources call clashes with creator Jonathan Nolan, whose TV credit is the WBTV-produced Person of Interest on CBS. (HBO usually makes its own programming but works with Warners on The Leftovers.) Nolan is said to be every bit as controlling as his filmmaker brother Chris. Sources say cuts came in slowly, scripts started running behind, and it became apparent that episodes already shot needed tweaks requiring additional filming. Since stopping production, HBO persuaded Nolan to “put aside his ego,” one source says, and has brought in two additional producers and two more writers. Production is set to resume in March“

THR goes on to speculate that a 2016 launch is unlikely, and the series might be pushed to 2017, but without any official word from HBO nobody really knows what’s going on. Before the doom-mongers monger that doom, delays and production problems don’t always equal a bad end product. The Game of Thrones pilot was reshot and that show turned out alright, so let’s not be hasty and label Westworld a disaster before it has started.  I’m a big fan of the book and the original movie, I love the idea of expanding the story to explore the concept in its fullest and I hope the series delivers on its potential.

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