The drama that was under construction since the end of 2019 will now focus on John Stewart, one of DC’s first black superheroes. The series, from the executive producer Greg Berlantiwas originally supposed to revolve around Guy Gardner and Alan Scott and had already cast Find Wittrock (Pawl) and Jeremy Irvin (walking stone) as the respective Green Lanterns.
As part of the creative overhaul, writer and showrunner Seth Grahame Smith left the series after completing scripts for a full season of eight episodes. Sources say Grahame-Smith, who signed on as writer and showrunner a year later The Green Lantern was announced, chose to leave the project after resisting a number of regime changes at HBO Max, its parent company, producers Warner Bros. Television and now DC Comics.
The decision to refocus The Green Lantern comes at a pivotal time for DC. Sources say John Stewart’s character was irrelevant to producers who envisioned the show as focusing on the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott and Guy Gardner, as well as a “slew of other Lanterns – family favorites.” comics forever – heroes already seen. With the recent exit of DC Comics lead Walter Hamada, the decision was made to start over and build the show around John Stewart, the character who first appeared in the early 1970s and inspired by Sidney Poitier. It should be noted that the The Green Lantern the creative overhaul has nothing to do with this week’s news that James Gunn and Peter Safran have been tapped to direct film, television and animation at DC Studios in a role similar to what Kevin Feige does at Marvel. (Gunn and Safran don’t start their new jobs until November 1.)
Of the previous incarnation, only Berlanti and its Warner Bros. television-based Berlanti productions. remain attached to The Green Lantern. (Executive producer Marc Guggenheim, who was originally set to co-write the pilot alongside Grahame-Smith, was not recently involved with the show before it was revamped.)
When HBO Max announced plans to The Green Lantern in October 2019, Berlanti described it as the “greatest DC show ever”, with plans for the series to go into space. Insiders at the time said it was set to be the most expensive show DC ever made and easily the biggest for HBO Max with an estimated budget of around $120 million. (Dragon House, in comparison, cost less than $200 million.)
The show’s budget going forward is expected to be significantly lower, as HBO Max, under Warner Bros. Combined Discovery by David Zaslav, focuses on the right sizing of its various assets. As part of the move to find cost savings estimated at $3 billion, Zaslav and his division heads scrapped a number of projects, including the Berlanti project. strange adventures anthology for HBO Max, the HBO original series from JJ Abrams Demimonde and the already finished bat girl feature film. (For Demimonde, HBO would have balked at Abrams’ request for a budget north of $200 million.)
WBD said in a filing with the SEC this week that it plans to collect $2 billion to $2.5 billion in taxes content-related write-downs. The previously completed eight The Green Lantern the scripts should be included in these tax cuts, as sources say it wasn’t Grahame-Smith’s creation that ultimately doomed the show’s first incarnation, but rather its price tag.
As for Wittrock and Irvine, neither has signed for The Green Lantern. Sources say Berlanti Productions is eager to work with both actors when and if the project, which currently has a script-to-series commitment, moves forward. In the spring of 2021, when Wittrock and Irvine were cast, the show was still being ramped up and was set to begin filming the same year. The project is now on a slower, more HBO-like development path under Bloys and Warner Bros. TV topper Channing Dungey. A new tie-in line for the series has yet to be determined as the project is back in its early development stages.
Representatives for HBO Max, Warners, Berlanti Productions and Grahame-Smith declined to comment.
The HBO Max take is Berlanti’s second stab at the world of Green Lantern. He previously wrote the screenplay (alongside Michael Green, Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg) for the 2011 DC star Ryan Reynolds. This film received negative reviews and was considered a flop. It grossed $219 million against a budget of $200 million.