From The Exorcist, to Lethal Weapon, to Fargo, it seems that both broadcast and cable outlets are currently in a mad rush to create TV series adaptations of classic film properties. Premium cable giant HBO is soon to throw its hat in that ring via Westworld, an adaptation of the 1973 cult classic sci-fi film of the same name. First ordered to pilot by the network back in 2013, Westworld has been subject to several delays on the way to its arrival on screens, with the plan originally being to premiere the series last year.
For those unfamiliar with Westworld (1973), the film was written and directed by best-selling author Michael Crichton, and was his directorial debut. The plot concerned a futuristic adult-targeted theme park called Delos, in which Westworld was one of three areas that park patrons could pay big money to spend time in. Each area was populated by highly advanced androids that were designed to be nearly indistinguishable from human beings, and guests were given free reign to indulge in any fantasy they saw fit while in the park, including those of a sexual and/or violent nature. Unfortunately, the androids soon go haywire and begin killing visitors.
HBO’s TV version of Westworld retains the movie’s basic premise and themes, although most of the characters are original to the show, and Westworld is no longer part of a larger theme park. Heading up the cast is Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins, who portrays Westworld’s genius creative director Dr. Robert Ford. Also on-board is multi-Oscar-nominee Ed Harris as the Man in Black, a character visually similar to the menacing gunslinger played by Yul Brynner in the 1973 film. HBO has released the official poster for Westworld, which can be seen directly below, and serves to drive home the series’ odd marriage between the sci-fi and western genres.
Contrasting the decidedly sci-fi aesthetic of the Westworld logo with a sweeping western vista, the poster also features a not yet fully formed “host”, the term used to refer to the park’s android inhabitants. Clearly female, one assumes the android in question might be Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), a host that the Man in Black aims to free from her robotic servitude. The tagline, every hero has a code, has a layered meaning within the context of the show. Being a machine, Dolores was programmed using code by Ford, and the trailers seem to be heavily suggesting that the hosts are the side worth rooting for when things go sideways, making her a likely hero.
With Game of Thrones — easily HBO’s biggest hit — set to end after two more seasons, it’s never too early for the network to start planning for the future. Should Westworld catch on well with audiences, the sci-fi drama could very well end up being a vital piece of HBO’s programming puzzle for years to come. With a talented cast signed on and powerhouse producers J.J. Abrams and Johnathan Nolan steering the ship, there’s certainly a good chance of such a positive outcome taking place.
Westworld premieres on October 2, 2016 at 9pm on HBO.