The Batman spinoff series starring Colin Farrell as the Penguin is eyeing an early 2023 production start for HBO Max. Set within the budding Bat-verse overseen by Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves, the DC drama expands upon the world Reeves created for the film and centers on Farrell's Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot as the mobster climbs the ranks of the Gotham City underworld. The limited series, announced under the working title The Penguin, has been in the works since before the Warner Bros. Discovery merger — and before CEO David Zaslav's aggressive cost-cutting measures axed HBO Max DC Comics adaptations Batgirl and Wonder Twins.
The Penguin is on track for a February production start, according to Deadline. Despite fan worries that the Batman spinoffs planned for HBO Max might be a victim of belt-tightening and budget cuts, Zaslav said during the company's Q2 earnings report that WBD is "going to spend dramatically more" on HBO Max Original programming in 2022 and 2023.
"Quality is what matters. Quality is what Casey [Bloys, HBO Max Chief Content Officer] and that team is delivering. It's the best team in the business. We're doubling down on that HBO team," Zaslav said during the investor's call. "They're all committed under contract and we're going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year in the year before."
Zaslav added: "There was some buzz today about HBO Max [that] we're going to start doing less series and our strategy is to embrace and support and then drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having. It's really to the culture and the taste of Casey and the team and the fact that they not only read the scripts, but they fight with all the creatives to make the content and storytelling as strong as possible. It's at a very unique moment. We think it's an extraordinary asset, an extraordinary advantage," he added.
In March, HBO Max gave a straight-to-series order to the Batman spinoff series executive produced by Reeves, Farrell, Dylan Clark, and Lauren LeFranc, who writes and serves as showrunner.
LeFranc "has some extraordinary ideas," Farrell told ComicBook about the villain-led drama. "And it's just that it's kind of an amazing character to explore, his kind of awkwardness, and his strength, and his villainy, yes, his propensity for violence. But there's also a heartbroken man inside there you know, which just makes it really tasty. I would love to do it. I won't believe it until I'm in the suit, and in Mike Marino's makeup, and I hear action, then I'll believe and see."
"I have long been a fan of the world of The Batman, and Matt's film is such a powerful and bold entry into the canon," LeFranc said in a statement. "I am excited and humbled to continue telling stories in the grimy world of Gotham City — and what better excuse to channel my inner villain than to tell the story of Oswald Cobblepot? I am thrilled to work with Colin, Matt, Dylan, [Reeves' 6th & Idaho], Warners, and HBO Max as we work to bring this story to the screen."
The Batman is now available to stream on HBO Max.