HBO Halts ’Westworld’ Production, Still Hopeful for 2016 Debut

     January 17, 2016


HBO has had a rough go of things lately with some of their most ambitious projects. In August, the premium network finally called it quits on David Fincher’s Utopia series, and recently Casey Affleck told us that the Lewis and Clark miniseries had not only halted production, but creative differences and other setbacks caused them to start the writing process all over again.

Hopefully it won’t come to that with Westworld, but Variety is reporting that the project is closing down for two months so that executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy can catch up on the final four scripts. (I know not every creative team finishes their scripts before a series or even a movie starts filming, but in general, I think it’s bad practice for exactly this reason. Also, it’s kind of important to have an ending). Though the production was planned to wrap in November, it won’t start shooting again until March. However, so far HBO is still hanging on to its 2016 premiere date (keep in mind it also was really certain the series would premiere in 2015).


Comments that J.J. Abrams made to me and a few other journalists at the TCA press tour last week about the series being “worth the wait” also now seem to carry an ill portend of its timeline. (Abrams also serves as an executive producer on the project) We might be waiting awhile.

Westworld, a one-hour drama series is based on the 1973 film by novelist Michael Crichton, is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” In other words, if it follows the original story, it’s the story of androids who run amuck in a high-tech, western-style theme park. Speaking of running amuck, the production caused some waves a few months ago when its contract for background actors was revealed, calling for a comfort with “genital-to-genital touching, simulating oral sex with hand-to-genital touching, contorting to form a table-like shape while being fully nude, posing on all fours while others who are fully nude ride on your back, [and] riding on someone’s back while you are both fully nude.” And I didn’t even get to the genital painting.

Back to the production woes, HBO said in a statement that, “As we head into the final phase of production on ‘Westworld,’ we’ve made the decision to take a brief hiatus in order to get ahead of the writing,” said HBO in a statement. Still, whether or not it’s still set to truly debut this year, and whether this production hiatus spells deeper trouble for the project, remains to be seen.

Westworld stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, and Evan Rachel Wood. You can see the teaser trailer here.