A new report suggests J.J. Abrams could be losing his leverage in Hollywood, and with that, Bad Robot’s era of monopolizing modern mythology could be at an end.
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This report comes from a major outlet, moreover, and not some unverified corner of the Internet. The Hollywood Reporter is claiming there is growing frustration at Warner Bros. Discovery over Abrams not delivering on his promises regarding DC content.
He signed his overall deal with WB in 2019 with an emphasis on developing the Justice League Dark realm of characters, such as Constantine, Deadman, and Madame Xanadu, in new films and TV projects.
Aside from hints at the potential and dubious race-swapping of the jaded British wizard as well as a few teases, nil has materialized on that mystical front. Warner has apparently seen a few scripts for Abrams’ Constantine and Madame X pitches too but that’s it. Nothing concrete signals these are ready to produce.
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The Star Wars/Trek producer-director also implicitly wanted a crack at Superman after all these years. What we have to look forward to is a script by Ta-Nehisi Coates that either racializes the Man of Steel or uses his alien heritage as a metaphor for racism.
As our readers may recall, there were no drafts of that script turned in within a year of the Bad Robot MOS being announced – though it’s been reported recently one has been submitted by Coates.
Adding fuel to the fire is the $250 million price tag on his contract, which is the tip of the iceberg. For comparison, THR mentions the budget for the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is under $200 million.
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Abrams is clearly not keeping inventory and looking beyond those numbers for just one of his HBO projects. THR reports, “Bad Robot is eyeing a spend that’s north of $200 million” for Demimonde – a sci-fi drama starring Danielle Deadwyler (Watchmen).
Demimonde will be Abrams’ return to writing TV for the first time since Fringe. Warner has looked at scripts for the series which they ordered after it was announced in 2018.
There hasn’t been much movement since then and the show is on the bubble with a decision on its status expected soon.
The cost-conscious David Zaslav is particularly frustrated with the lack of return on the Abrams investment, THR sources say, as he puts “overall deals under the microscope…to trim $3 billion.”
That is hanging over him but Abrams remains active, if not critically bogged down. He is involved in original content creation for HBO Max, Netflix, and Apple TV.
Other than Demimonde, he’s producing reality-bender Subject to Change and crime drama Duster for HBO, a series about the band U2 for Netflix, and Apple’s Presumed Innocent co-produced by David E. Kelley.
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He’s said to be working on the next Star Trek movie for Paramount and is looking to roll cameras and sound later this year. Actors in the Bad Robot Trek series, on the contrary, disclaim they were told anything about a new film.
Batman is the only property of DC’s, and in general, looking like it’s bearing any fruit with Batman: Caped Crusader, a new animated series Abrams is developing with his cohort Matt Reeves and Bruce Timm for HBO Max.
However, since the DC FanDome panel last October, nearly a year ago, there is little in the way of updates on that one, and in the abstract, it became an afterthought.
Representatives for Bad Robot and Warner did not comment but it was noted Abrams’s deal isn’t considered in jeopardy despite THR’s assertions.
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