JJ Abrams: Filming for new project in Belfast scrapped

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 it was “extremely disappointed” that filming for the television series was not going ahead.

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.

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.

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

‘Difficult decisions’
The screen agency said it would do all it could to try to find another production to move into the studio space.

“This project has been prepping on the ground in Belfast for many months and was slated to film its pilot soon,” a spokesperson said.

“Northern Ireland Screen is conscious that these late and difficult decisions do happen in the screen industry, particularly with the most expensive projects which carry the greatest expectation.

“The cancelling of Demimonde leaves a gap in Northern Ireland’s production schedule and Northern Ireland Screen will do everything it can to plug that gap as quickly as possible, mindful that many freelance crew and supply chain companies were relying on Demimonde for work in the months ahead.”

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.