WarnerMedia and DC have decided to cancel Swamp Thing after airing the pilot episode just last week. The show is an exclusive to the DC Universe online streaming service, and joins Titans and Doom Patrol in the DCU library. Swamp Thing scored some of the best reviews of any of the shows on DCU, including ours, which found the show scary and exciting, with so much potential.
But Swamp Thing’s end has little to do with creative issues, or unruly talent on set. It’s a business decision, and if anyone is to blame, it’s the state of North Carolina. The state reportedly offered Warner Bros. certain tax credits to help offset the estimated $80 million budget for the Swamp Thing’s first season. There is some dispute at the time of this writing how much those credits would have amounted to, with some reports saying as high at $40 million, or half the budget.
When North Carolina discovered their clerical error, they fixed it, and those tax credits dropped considerably, so much so, that Warner Bros. decided the end the production after only 10 episodes — down from the original 13 episode order. And then the speculation began, as Slashfilm shared.
Word leaked that the show might be in trouble, and in April, when the episode order was cut, the official reason was “creative differences,” which is much too vague to offer any solid reason for the cut. But now we know that it wasn’t a creative issue between show creators Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, or with James Wan, who served as EVP. It was purely a fiduciary issue.
There is always a chance that the production of Swamp Thing could be moved to another state, Louisiana perhaps, which has decent tax credits for entertainment productions. But Warner Bros. is more concerned with making sure the level of quality matches. We’ve only seen the first episode so far, but the production levels are feature film caliber.
This is one of the better looking shows on TV right now, and cutting the budget in half, or by moving to a new state, with new, local crews and lesser-known actors taking roles could essentially muddy the swamp waters.
And with this sudden change in course with Swamp Thing, there is now word that AT&T is reevaluating the DC Universe service as a whole, according to Deadline. This would be a major blow to fans who have embraced the service not only for the original programming, but for the steady streaming of all the classic DC-based TV shows and movies in the library and the over 20,000 DC comics available to read online going back over 80 years.
Swamp Thing, the show and the character, deserves better than this, and maybe it will find a new life once the dust settles. With so much junk floating in the waters right now, fans will just have to wait for the silt to settle to clearly see the future of the show, the DC Universe service, and WarnerMedia itself.
Until then, fans have nine more episodes of Swamp Thing to enjoy, and hopefully, this behind-the-scenes drama will get worked out and maybe, just maybe, the show and the DC Universe service will be able to continue on.
Images courtesy of Warner Bros.