The Best Sci-Fi Series Is Being Removed From Streaming
HBO Max has removed Westworld from its streaming library. The move follows the show’s cancellation after four seasons. Other popular series being scrapped from the streaming lineup include Joss Whedon’s The Nevers and the anthology series Love Life. According to Deadline less-high profile titles destined for the chopping block will be announced in the next few days.
The axing of HBO Max titles is nothing new under the leadership of CEO David Zaslav. However, the removal of Westworld is particularly surprising as the series was specially created for HBO. However, sources familiar with the situation say the dystopian sci-fi western may resurface on FAST channel.
The free service platform, which includes ads, is being developed by Warner Bros. Discovery as it plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, IndieWire reports.
Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name. It also includes some elements from the 1976 sequel Futureworld. The story begins in a technologically advanced amusement park populated by android hosts.
The Wild West-themed facility caters to affluent guests who can indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts.
The androids are prevented from harming humans by their programming. The Westworld setting eventually expands to the real world. Now in the mid-21st century, people’s lives are driven and controlled by a powerful artificial intelligence named Rehoboam.
The series premiered in October 2016 with positive reviews from fans and critics. The first season was also the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever.
Subsequent Westworld seasons followed in April 2018, March 2020, and June 2022, respectively. But unlike the first outing, these installments were met with mixed reviews and viewership slowly began to decline. Still, the cancellation came as a surprise as Nolan and Joy were in negotiations to develop a fifth and final season.
Interestingly, the primary cast of Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Ed Harris will still be paid for the defunct season.
The cast of Westworld had a “pay-or-play deal” for Season 5 which was confirmed before the fourth season was broadcast, Deadline reports. While it might seem strange, the agreement is not unusual. Networks often enter into this type of agreement to secure a cast long before a renewal decision is made.
These monetary contracts are put in place to ensure the return of big stars.
According to the publication; Wood, Newton, Wright, and Harris previously renegotiated their salaries after Season 2 to about $250,000 an episode for Season 3. The payment the cast is owed for the fifth installment is believed to be in the range of $10 and $15 million. While it might seem excessive, Westworld was an expensive show with a stellar cast.
Despite gaps of almost two years between the release of each new season, and the decline in ratings, die-hard fans remained loyal to Westworld during its entire run. Folks can attempt to catch the series before it disappears from HBO Max very soon.