Earlier today came the surprising news that HBO had officially given the axe to Westworld and cancelled the series after four seasons. Though some were stunned by the revelation, the series had been seeing lower and lower ratings as its story continued to unfold, and with parent company Warner Bros. Discovery looking for countless ways to save money the cancellation shouldn't have been a shock. All that in mind however, the actual surprise of it all is that the cast for the series will still be paid for Westworld's fifth season even though none of it will be shot.
According to Deadline, the shows main cast will still take home huge paychecks for the series despite not filming anymore episodes of the show. Though who exactly isn't confirmed, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Aaron Paul, could all get paid despite no days on set. All of this goes back to the extended window between seasons three and four of the show, which was long enough for HBO to exercise the cast's options on the contracts to make sure they would still be able to be a part of the show. The trade reports that the cast may have renegotiated their deals between the seasons and had pay-or-play deals (Hollywood speak for "you get paid if it happens or not").
The trade goes on to report that while the cast had deals for roughly $250,000 an episode in season three, their payout for season five, despite not actually shooting anything, could be even bigger than that. They note that the entire cast's salary for Westworld season five is in the $10 million to $15 million range. Considering the season itself would have cost upwards of $80 million, one might think that Warner Bros. and HBO are getting off easy by paying this.
Why did HBO cancel Westworld?
As the trade notes, Westworld's cancellation is a classic case of a TV show simply underperforming and the cost for more episodes outweighing the benefit of it all in the end. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has been open about the company's need to cut more costs as the merger has been completed, with the final chapter of Westworld seemingly becoming one of those in the end.
"We always planned for a fifth and final season," Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan said during New York Comic-Con last month. "We are still in conversations with the network. We very much hope to make them." As we know, that didn't happen.