Today DC fans got a shock, as it was announced that DC Universe's newest series, Swamp Thing, has been cancelled after just airing its premiere episode last week. However, in unfolding reports about Swamp Thing's cancellation, there seems to be some confusion as to why the show was cancelled, but now those details seem to be coming to light.
Here's the case laid out by industry writer/reporter John Gholson, which has to do with more than just "creative differences," but rather the financial dealings of the state of North Carolina, where Swamp Thing was shot:
In the articles about SWAMP THING there still seems to be some confusion as to the "why" of sudden shutdown. The reasons didn't hit the entertainment trades, BUT...they did hit the news in North Carolina...— John Gholson (@gholson) June 6, 2019
North Carolina promised a $40m tax rebate that, due to a paperwork error, they were unable to deliver. That was roughly half the proposed budget for s1 (which is estimated at $80m).— John Gholson (@gholson) June 6, 2019
When NC discovered the error, the corrected. WB shut down production, realizing they'd be taking a bath on the rebate and paying for far more of it than assumed. The adjusted number from NC is something like $14m. That's a massive difference.— John Gholson (@gholson) June 6, 2019
Indeed, a simple cursory look at reporting from out of North Carolina confirms that back in late April, a miscommunication between the NC House of Representatives and Department of Commerce left the state's film grant program unfunded for the fiscal year. The grant program acts as a sort of rebate to productions after they have finished shooting in the state -- a rebate that DC and Warner Bros. were counting on to balance the books on Swamp Thing. When the funding error was realized, the impact was a reported $85 million hit for Season One of Swamp Thing, a cost which forced DC Universe to scale back the episode order. Now that the cost-cutting incentives of shooting in North Carolina are gone, there's no reason for DC/WB TV to keep the production at the ready for a Season that wouldn't be cost effective to even make.
Given DC Universe's status as a "niche platform" streaming service, with limited viewership and reach, it's not surprising that the services original programs must stick to a strict budgetary line. According to sources like GWW, HBO and THE CW have looked at picking up Swamp Thing, but there's no official word on that yet. Stay tuned.
Swamp Thing will air the rest of Season One(episodes 2 through 10) every Friday on DC Universe.