Demimonde cancelled: NI film bosses on the hunt to fill Titanic Studios spot

Film industry bosses in Northern Ireland are working to fill a hole left by the loss of a major sci-fi drama to be filmed in the region.

The creation of Star Wars director JJ Abrams, Demimonde was set to shoot in Belfast this year.

However, the series was canceled due to funding issues between Abrams’ company Bad Robot and the US network HBO, which was scheduled to air the show.

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Northern Ireland has become an increasingly popular filming location for major studios and corporations in recent years, with HBO’s Game Of Thrones among some of the high profile productions filmed in the region.

Northern Ireland Screen, the government-backed development agency for the local film industry, said more than 600 people were expected to work on the shoot.

NI Screen chief executive Richard Williams said they have invested around £1million in the project before filming a pilot.

He said he’s confident the money will be refunded by HBO.

“There’s no way you can disguise it as good news, it’s very disappointing, it’s been an extremely high-profile project,” Mr Williams told BBC Radio Ulster.

He said the cancellation came “very late”.

“It’s been planned with us for a long time and they’ve been on site well before Christmas,” he added.

“So this is not good news and there will be a lot of people in the supply chain, a lot of freelancers, who were expecting to be working on this project this year and that could be the case for years to come.

“But at the same time this has happened to us before and we had a project that got canceled just before lockdown and we replaced it with Dungeons And Dragons and basically we have to do that again, we have to go back in the market and find it you another project.”

Mr Williams added: “We will be in LA in the next few weeks. We’ll be looking for a new project to get into the Titanic studios as soon as possible, we’ll talk to HBO about it, we’ll talk to all our other contacts.

“It’s hard to say, but I would be very disappointed if we hadn’t planned a new project by mid-autumn, certainly before Christmas, but time is lost, money is certainly lost.”

The boss of NI Screen said the cancellation had nothing to do with the Northern Ireland offering but was because Bad Robot wanted more money than HBO was willing to pay for the series.

“There was a time when projects, especially at the top end, were almost ‘money doesn’t matter’ and I think the market is recalibrating and I think those days may be coming to an end,” he said.

“Which doesn’t mean for a second that there won’t still be a large number of projects and a significant number of the best of those projects in Northern Ireland.

“But I think going forward there will be a little more focus on what they cost than there has been in the immediate past.”

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