HBO Max cancels two DC projects from J.J. Abrams — but they could be saved

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It’s been a tumultuous few months for HBO Max in the wake of the Warner Discovery merger with reports that the streaming service could be combined with Discovery Plus and several high-profile projects are getting scrapped, and unfortunately, there are now two more TV shows confirmed to be canceled on the platform. 

Deadline reports that HBO Max has passed on a television spin-off from the cult movie Constantine, as well as a show based on the DC Comics' character Madame X. J.J. Abrams was involved in both projects as a producer and the shows would have been made in collaboration with his Bad Robot production company.

Constantine’s fate was apparently sealed by the recent news of a sequel to the 2005 movie ramping up its development. The film will reportedly reunite original star Keanu Reeves and director Francis Lawrence and has taken priority over the TV shows, which would have been a darker take on the character. 

It would seem Warner Bros felt that two projects based on a somewhat niche DC franchise like Constantine wasn’t necessary. Unfortunately, it’s the small-screen adaptation that has been axed. Granted, this decision makes sense as there’s likely more interest in a proper sequel that involves Reeves. 

Meanwhile, Abrams was also working on a Madame X TV show. The character, full name Madame Xanadu, is an immoral clairvoyant that uses tarot cards to tell the future and has become a DC comics fan favorite over the years. This project had been in the works for several years, but under David Zaslav’s watch, HBO will not be bringing Madame X to its streaming platform. 

Exactly why this series has been scrapped is unconfirmed, but it’s been speculated that the abundance of live-action DC series already in production is responsible. HBO Max currently offers a slate of more than half a dozen DC shows, and it stands to reason a Warner executive may have felt adding another to the mix was unnecessary. 

While both these projects are canceled at HBO Max, that doesn’t mean they won’t ever see the light of day. Both will be shopped to alternative platforms, and Deadline reports that Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television are optimistic that both will find a new home. This could be a traditional broadcasting network or a rival streaming service like Hulu or Netflix

It’s been a bruising few months for J.J. Abrams projects in development at HBO Max. His Demimonde series, which was his first solo TV effort since Alias, was canned by HBO back in June. Plus, animated comic book series Batman: Caped Crusader, which boasts Abrams and The Batman director Matt Reeves on its creative team, is also currently looking for a new home after HBO Max passed on the project earlier this year.  

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.