The Main Cast Of Westworld Will Still Get Paid Millions For Season 5 Despite Cancellation

One has to imagine that a robotic host in HBO's "Westworld" would receive the news of the show's untimely cancellation, one season ahead of its planned ending, with the words, "Doesn't look like anything to me." On "Westworld," hosts were programmed not to see things that would hurt them, and for the show's main cast, at least, doing that in real life might be a little easier thanks to the fact that they will still reportedly get paid for the unproduced season 5. Just superimpose dollar signs in the millions over their walking papers and they might not look so bad.

Citing unnamed sources, a new report from Deadline indicates that the core "Westworld" cast — which includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Aaron Paul — had negotiated pay-or-play deals for season 5. A pay-or-play contract ensures that an actor will still be paid even if the production does not move forward and their services are no longer required. It's a way for producers or a studio or network to guarantee that the talent will be on hand for a project that is in development. The salaries due for the "Westworld" cast are said to be $10 to $15 millon.

Hemorrhaging viewers

The mythology in "Westworld" had become increasingly overwrought as the show went on. The series' ratings dropped off by half after season 2, sliding from an average of 1.6 to 0.8 viewers as people grew impatient with the convoluted storyline. Like a lot of viewers, I stopped keeping up with "Westworld" after season 3; it was a chore to get through, and the last time I really spent any time watching any part of the show was when the season 4 trailer hit earlier this year. I did read our own Sarah Milner's review of "Westworld" season 4, which called it "a case of diminishing returns," and it seemed like I wasn't missing much.

While the creative people involved in "Westworld" and its fans may be frustrated to see it canceled this close to the finish line, other beloved HBO shows like "Carnivále" and "Deadwood" have seen their narratives interrupted after only two or three seasons. With "Westworld" season 4 hemorrhaging even more viewers, bringing it down to 0.03 million, a fraction of its original audience of 1.8 million, it's frankly not all that surprising that HBO decided to stop pouring money into it.

One thing "Westworld" did have going for it was its production value, but that made it expensive to shoot, with season 3 carrying an estimated budget of $100 million for eight episodes. Paying the cast $10 to $15 million instead of that seems like it was just a way for HBO to cut its losses and move on from a show that should have probably ended after its first season, anyway, back when it was actually still set in the fictional theme park that gave the series its title.