HBO has canceled “Westworld” after four seasons, the network announced Friday. The news comes just under three months after the series aired its Season 4 finale Aug. 14.
Variety is told a multitude of factors went into the decision to end the sci-drama, including the production’s hefty price tag, combined with dwindling viewership and an ongoing evaluation of programming across the board at HBO’s new parent, Warner Bros. Discovery.
The David Zaslav-run company has been paring back spending as part of a plan to institute $3.5 billion in cost-saving synergies, which the business has promised to find over the next three years post-April merger. However, even on the heels of a rough third-quarter earnings report, Zaslav has continued to underline the importance of healthy content spend, and HBO has several high-profile, big-budget dramas that make it clear the premium cabler isn’t cutting back overall, including “House of the Dragon,” “Euphoria” and the upcoming “The Last of Us” adaptation.
Created by husband-and-wife producing duo Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and produced by J.J. Abrams, “Westworld” starred Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan and James Marsden. Newcomers for Season 4 included Ariana DeBose, Aurora Perrineau and Daniel Wu.
“Over the past four seasons, Lisa and Jonah have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step,” HBO said in a statement Friday. “We are tremendously grateful to them, along with their immensely talented cast, producers and crew, and all of our partners at Kilter Films, Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television. It’s been a thrill to join them on this journey.”
Nolan and Joy added in their own statement through banner Kilter Films: “Making ‘Westworld’ has been one of the highlights of our careers. We are deeply grateful to our extraordinary cast and crew for creating these indelible characters and brilliant worlds. We’ve been privileged to tell these stories about the future of consciousness – both human and beyond – in the brief window of time before our AI overlords forbid us from doing so.”
“Westworld” first debuted in October 2016. The series centered on the titular technologically advanced amusement park filled with A.I. “hosts” in a wild west setting. The show expanded its scope outside of Westworld in Season 2 to neighboring theme parks owned and operated by the same fictional dystopian company, then ventured into the “real world” in all its futuristic glory in its third season. The eight-episode fourth season of “Westworld” premiered June 26.
The series premiere of “Westworld” boasted HBO’s highest viewership for a premiere since the launch of “True Detective” in 2014. After that, the first season of the sci-fi drama became the most-watched freshman year of any HBO original series ever. However, its ratings have fallen each season, culminating in a dramatic drop in Season 4.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Variety