JJ Abrams: Filming for new project in Belfast scrapped

By Peter Coulter

  • Published
JJ AbramsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
JJ Abrams has directed films in the Star Wars franchise

A major television series from Star Wars director JJ Abrams, which was due to film in Belfast, has been cancelled.

The sci-fi drama Demimonde was set to be broadcast on the United States network HBO.

Crew who had started working on the project in Belfast have been stood down.

Northern Ireland Screen said they would be looking in the coming weeks for a project to replace it, and it would get back its £1m investment.

JJ Abrams is best known for directing Star Wars and the Mission Impossible films.

BBC News NI's Good Morning Ulster programme understands crew who were working in pre-production on the project were sent home while negotiations took place between JJ Abrams' production company Bad Robot and HBO.

The film industry publication The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the show was not going ahead due to "budget issues".

The television series was in pre-production at the Titanic Studios in Belfast, which previously housed Game of Thrones and the upcoming blockbuster film Dungeons and Dragons.

Media caption,
Belfast filming for new JJ Abrams series cancelled

It was expected that Demimonde would be in the studios for more than a year, which would have provided well-paid work for local film crews.

Northern Ireland Screen chief executive Richard Williams told Good Morning Ulster the production would have provided work for about 600 people.

'Time is lost, money is lost'

He said it was not unusual for a project to drop out, and NI Screen would be looking for another in Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

"We've had this happen before, we had a project just to drop out before lockdown and had it replaced by Dungeons and Dragons," Mr Williams said.

"We'll just have to go out to find another project.

"I would be very disappointed if we didn't have a new project slated by the middle of autumn, certainly before Christmas - but time is lost, money is lost for sure."

He said the money the screen agency invested in the pilot - which had not yet been shot - would be recouped, adding: "We had invested in the pilot to the tune of just over a million pounds. We will have a swift conversation with HBO to get that money retrieved."

Securing Demimonde to shoot in Belfast was a big coup for Northern Ireland Screen.

Northern Ireland's film and television industry has been boosted recently by securing major projects like The Northman, The School for Good and Evil, Lift and Dungeons and Dragons.

HBO has been approached for comment.

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