HBO’s two-month Westworld shut-down won’t prevent the high-priced drama from getting millions in tax incentives. Sources inform Deadline that the pause to allow EPs Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy a breather to finish four final scripts won’t endanger the more than $12 million in credits from California last summer. As long as a show doesn’t a hiatus of more than 120 days in total during principal photography, the incentives still flow to the show.
HBO confirmed the delay today, saying in a 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.” Individuals close to the production tell Deadline that they are told things will start up again in mid-February.
Break or no break, the CFC regulations say that as long as Westworld filmed at least 1-day in California within 180 days of being approved for the lucrative tax credits this summer it will still get the incentives when the season finishes. Even if the production only shot 1-day in Cali, the clock re-sets for another 120 days before the credits are in any peril. So essentially, Westworld didn’t even have to go into full production until May 2016 to still qualify for the incentive they got last June. More significantly, even with this break, as long as the production finishes within 30 months of formally getting the letter notifying them of the credit allocations from the California Film Commission there is no disturbance in their award.
Last summer, the nearly $54 million budgeted Westworld was the big winner in the first TV round of the now non-lottery $330 million a year program from the Golden State. With the revamped program’s emphasis on job creation, the sci-fi series based on the 1973 movie said in its successful CFC application that it would be hiring 64 main cast, 185 crew members and a whopping 4,896 stand-ins and extras for its first season.
Like the original film, the series is a mash-up a theme-park setting and animatronics with science fiction and Wild West iconography. With a first look preview at Comic-Con last year, some of that cast of 64includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tessa Thompson, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins, Jr., Simon Quarterman and Angela Sarafyan.
Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films are producing in association with Warner Bros. Nolan is executive producer/writer/director with executive producer/writer Joy, along with exec producers J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.
Variety first reported news of the Westworld production shut-down