Project Greenlight, a reality TV series that debuted on HBO in 2001, had a simple premise: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Miramax would pick the winner of a contest from out of obscurity and give that person the opportunity to direct a movie. The result, in two seasons on HBO and a third on Bravo, was always the same: A hugely entertaining show about someone totally out of their depth, resulting in a film that was very much from a first-time director.
After the original seasons produced such films as Stolen Summer, the Shia LaBeouf-led The Battle of Shaker Heights, and Feast, Project Greenlight went away in 2005. HBO brought the series back last year after a 10-year hiatus, leading to the HBO original movie The Leisure Class. That didn’t receive a much better reception than its predecessors, and now it appears it may have been the final Project Greenlight movie.
According to Variety HBO has canceled the series. Matt Damon responded to the cancelation by adding that he and Affleck are considering shopping the concept around to another network or streaming service. HBO’s statement reads:
“When we picked up a new season in 2014, we imagined a one season revival and decided in early 2016 another season did not make sense for us… we are proud of the show and were pleased with its run throughout the years.”
The show’s fourth season was best known for producer Effie Brown getting into confrontations with everyone — including a racially charged argument with Damon that turned into a viral video — and director Jason Mann making wild, extravagant demands despite not being in any position to do so. Even though Mann won a protracted fight over shooting on film, the resulting movie, The Leisure Class, received generally negative reviews after it aired on HBO.
After four seasons of Project Greenlight, we know a few things about it: It’s a hugely entertaining show, showing that much of the creative process of movies can involve people fighting with each other. However, judging by Damon’s comments, the show isn’t completely dead. Having already switched networks twice, and returned after a 10-year break, and survived a lot of things, from the economics of the movie industry to the status of Miramax to the relative strength of Affleck and Damon’s careers.
Clearly the show has potential elsewhere. It could take awhile, but it would not be shocking to see Project Greenlight get a green light somewhere other than HBO.