From executive producers Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) and Lisa Joy, Westworld is one of the most highly anticipated upcoming shows, and is remarkably ambitious even for HBO, the home of Game of Thrones. Based on the the 1973 sci-fi Western of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton, this darker update on the material has been touted as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”
The dynamic cast includes James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins as the creator of this new Westworld, an interactive amusement park complete with androids that allow visitors to act out their fantasies. While the show's first (and so far only) trailer was light on plot, the imagery and tone on display only ramped up our expectations.
Today, Variety reports that production on Westworld has been halted for two months so Nolan and Joy "can catch up on the final four scripts." Production was originally scheduled to completely wrap back in November but has now been projected to wrap up in March, with the network still aiming for a 2016 premiere. HBO released this statement:
“As we head into the final phase of production on ‘Westworld,’ we’ve made the decision to take a brief hiatus in order to get ahead of the writing.”
There are no details on why the final few scripts have been delayed, but it is a big project. The pilot was originally greenlit in 2013 and HBO ordered Westworld to series in 2014. HBO then released a Vine which teased the show's coming in 2015. Last January, Jonathan Nolan spoke about the deeply ambitious, "subversive" nature of the show and how he hopes to exploit the audiences' deep-set anxieties about the potential of technology run amok. Nolan and Joy may have written themselves into some corners at this point.
Whatever the reason, the network is adamant that the shutdown is temporary, but has not yet set a specific premiere date beyond later in 2016. By now we can safely assume that this Westworld will be far more than a sci-fi Western series. The original film starring Yul Brynner fell into a relatively straightforward narrative about battling malfunctioning cowboy robots, but Nolan and Joy clearly have something far richer in mind. If they require more time to get the last few scripts right, then the show will likely be better off and audiences left much more satisfied.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Westworld remains slated to premiere on HBO in 2016.