J.J. Abrams' Demimonde Won't Be Moving Forward At HBO

"Demimonde" was slated to be the first sci-fi series written by J.J. Abrams since "Fringe" debuted on FOX in 2008, but thanks to HBO, there's been a change of plans. The series has been in the works since 2018, and it had a straight-to-series order with Danielle Deadwyler ("The Harder They Fall," "Station Eleven") set to star, Abrams set to write, and Rand Ravich and Far Shariat acting as showrunners. But production took a turn late last month, when Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav took a second look at the series' progress.

In the wake of the Warner Bros and Discovery merger, cost became a key factor, and "Demimonde" was simply asking for too much money. Abrams, who was also set to direct the pilot, was looking to spend upwards of $200 million on the show — even more than the network spent on its upcoming "Game of Thrones" prequel, "House of the Dragon." With the network already looking to cut $3 billion from the company's budget, this was a no-go. But just because "Demimonde" won't be moving forward at HBO, doesn't mean all hope is lost. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will now be shopped around by Warner Bros Television to streamers like Apple TV+ and Netflix, two platforms where Abrams already has other shows in the works. Originally, HBO beat out Apple in a bidding war for "Demimonde," so this may be their chance to get back in on the ground floor.

What Demimonde could've been

"Demimonde" was eye-catching enough, thanks to J.J. Abrams' name alone. History has taught us to pay attention when he's attached to a sci-fi saga, thanks to the likes of "Lost," "Westworld," the new "Star Wars" trilogy, and more. It also helps that the series has an intriguing premise that sounded like a sci-fi-fueled metaphor for grief. Abrams' spec script was described as an "intimate sci-fi fantasy drama," following a woman, Olive Reed (Deadwyler, seen above in "Station 11"), torn away from her husband and daughter in a brutal accident. As she tries to reunite with her family — now lost in a dark, distant world — the story would also grapple with a "world's battle against a monstrous, oppressive force."

Apple seems like a good bet for where "Demimonde" could end up, not just because of their seemingly endless piles of cash, but because the Abrams already has a lot going on with Apple TV+. He worked on both "Little Voice" and "Lisey's Story," and he also has a couple more projects in the works via Bad Robot, including "Presumed Innocent," Jennifer Garner vehicle "My Glory Was I Had Such Friends" and a new "Speed Racer" series. Apple even pursued Abrams for an overall deal with Bad Robot, which he reportedly turned down because of its exclusivity.  

Abrams' Bad Robot instead has a first-look deal with HBO, though "Demimonde" isn't the first show the network has passed on. HBO also decided not to book a stay at the "Overlook," turning down "The Shining" prequel series last year. The series has since moved to Netflix, though it has no official release date or cast yet.  The other Bad Robot/HBO upcoming projects include the adult animated Batman series, "Subject to Change," "Fledgeling," and the Josh Holloway drama "Duster," in addition to the Justice League Dark franchise, which includes "Constantine" and "Madame X." So even if "Demimonde" doesn't move forward anywhere else, Abrams has plenty to keep him busy.