Let us take you through the big WESTWORLD news that will no doubt be devastating for fans of the sci-fi series. Watch above or read below!
Westworld has been cancelled. Yes, no season five for the big-budget HBO sci-fi series, which released its fourth season from June to August this year.
Created by married writers and producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, Westworld was a series adaptation of the 1973 sci-fi film of the same name written and directed by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. The plot – initially – tells of what unfolds when the android hosts of a Wild West-themed amusement park become sentient and realise how they are being used by high-paying human guests wanting to indulge in their wildest fantasies.
The series boasted quite the cast, including, in no particular order, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Barnes, Tess Thompson, and Aaron Paul, among many others.
HBO announced that Westworld had been cancelled, their statement reading:
“Over the past four seasons, Lisa and Jonah have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step. 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.”
Stated production company Kilter Films, headed by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan:
“Making Westworld has been one of the highlights of our careers. We are deeply grateful to our extraordinary cast and crew for creating these indelible characters and brilliant worlds. We’ve been privileged to tell these stories about the future of consciousness – both human and beyond – in the brief window of time before our AI overlords forbid us from doing so.”
There have been reactions from the cast and crew of the series. Co-creator Lisa Joy shared a video of Anthony Hopkins’ final moment at the end of season 1, along with the caption, “Thank you to all my Westworld family and fans! Until we meet again!”
Posted Jeffrey Wright: “I loved every minute of it. Love the gang. Love what we did together.”
I loved every minute of it. Love the gang. Love what we did together. Chillin' down in cold storage until… https://t.co/3eavupqBEt
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) November 4, 2022
Actors Aaron Paul and Zahn McLarnon responded to the announcement post on the official Westworld Instagram profile.
Wrote Paul: “Couldn’t be more proud to have been part of this incredibly beautiful and complex show. I love all you so much. [sic]”
McLarnon posted: “Thank you.”
And cast member Angela Sarafyan shared a heartfelt post, writing: “Oh my darlin’ Clementine. To live with you for almost a decade, I have grown up with you, learned from you, been inspired by you. Thank you Jonah & Lisa Joy Nolan for bringing this beautiful character into my life. With my utmost gratitude to HBO , to our incredible cast and crew, the hearts and souls of all involved. I love you.”
Luckily for some of the show’s lead cast members, they signed pay-or-play deals with HBO for a potential fifth season, meaning they would get paid their fees whether the next chapter was made or not. According to Deadline, a number of the actors had their options come up before season 4 had hit screens and they worked out the beneficial deals. This kind of contract allows big companies like HBO to have a hold on big-name casts while another season is still to be confirmed. Just in case.
Deadline reports that HBO will have to fork out $10 to $15 million in salaries to cast members that made those deals. No details on who the stars are, although the HBO page does list Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffery Wright, Aaron Paul and Ed Harris as the main cast.
WHY WESTWORLD WAS CANCELLED
So, why has HBO cancelled the series after four seasons, considering the story was incomplete? The creators had expressed a desire to wrap up the story with a six-season arc. Well, as per usual with television cancellations, it appears to be a combination of cost vs ratings.
The cancellation may have been a shock to fans, but, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, things had not looked good for a while now. The outlet’s sources say that HBO had been holding off a season five renewal in the hopes that more viewers tuned in to see season four on HBO Max, but the numbers simply weren’t there. There was some speculation that the series was in trouble when HBO failed to announce a new season – this was the first time the series had not been renewed whilst having a season unfolding.
Unfortunately, Westworld’s audience had been shrinking since the strong numbers earned during season one. That first chapter drew in an estimated 12 million viewers. Fast forward to the recent season four, and only a third of those numbers remained. The series wrapped with a season that drew around 4 million viewers.
Perhaps those numbers don’t sound horrific, but a declining viewership like this simply isn’t acceptable for a series that costs as much as Westworld. This has been one expensive show. Season one reportedly cost around $100 million to make, a giant price tag back in 2016, and the fourth season cost around $160 million – and that was for just eight episodes.
It’s simple maths for HBO. After all, they have 29 million viewers tuning in per episode of Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. That series reportedly cost them around $125 million to make.
And there’s also the matter of reviews and overall opinions, which also saw a negative slide over the seasons. While Westworld undoubtedly has its strong fanbase and has continued to draw much love, the declining ratings came as criticism grew, with many unhappy with the show’s complex narrative and world building, as well as plot turns heavily weighed down by mystery.
The audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, for example, kicked off with a 93 percent for season 1. Season 4, at the time of writing, has a 54 percent.
So, there we have it, no doubt bad news for Westworld fans. But, the cancellation has only just occurred, so there remains a chance that Westworld could be picked up by another streaming service down the track. Maybe. After all, loud enough fanbases have saved series such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Lucifer, and cancelled series such as Ray Donavan and Deadwood managed to have their narratives close with films. HBO’s Deadwood movie was given to fans around 12 years after the series was axed. You never know. It may be time to join a #SAVEWESTWORLD campaign.