Based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film, “Westworld” focused on the staff, guests, and android residents of the eponymous wild-west themed amusement park, catering to the wealthy. Over the course of four seasons, as the Westworld “hosts” rebelled against their masters, the show expanded its scope to other theme parks run by the same company, and eventually the outside world. The show was created by husband-wife duo Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and featured a large ensemble cast that included Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, James Marsden, Ariana DeBose, Aurora Perrineau, and Daniel Wu.
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“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 their statement on the cancellation. “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.”
The first season of “Westworld” premiered in 2016 to critical acclaim and strong ratings, becoming the highest-rated debut season of any HBO show. It also received strong love from the Emmys, including a supporting actress win for Newton in its second season and nominations for best drama series during its first two years. Overall, the show was nominated for 54 Emmy Awards during its run.
After the successful first season, however, “Westworld” experienced a declining reception among critics and falling ratings. While Season 2 was still relatively successful, 2020’s Season 3 saw ratings sink below one million viewers for every episode, while this year’s Season 4 averaged only 0.3 million viewers per episode. In addition, while the exact per-episode budget for the show is unclear, it was one of HBO’s most expensive and VFX-heavy productions, which posed trouble for the series as its ratings faded.
The news also comes during Warner Bros. Discovery’s continuing effort to cut $3.5 billion from its spending, which has resulted in the cancellations of several HBO Max shows — sometimes before they even finished production — as well as layoffs and restructurings for several of the company’s divisions. “Westworld” is the second HBO series to be canceled since the WBD merger in April, aside from “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”
Nolan and Joy executive produced “Westworld” with J.J. Abrams, Alison Schapker, Athena Wickham, Richard J. Lewis, Denise Thé, and Ben Stephenson. The series was a production of Kilter Films and Bad Robot Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television.
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