It took Dr. Robert Ford 30 years to plan and execute his final Westworld narrative, so we should be grateful that it’ll only take Westworld—the HBO show—two years to film its next season.
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the married co-creators and showrunners behind Westworld, said yesterday that their show will not follow the traditional “one year, one season” model of television. Instead, they’ll need about two years to film each season.
“We said very early on that we wouldn’t be able to turn this around every year, and knowing full well that that’s been a time-honored tradition in television,” Nolan told the Hollywood Reporter. “But in film, my other life, on the Batman movies, the best we could do is turn another one around in three years. I really feel like we’re splitting the difference here.”
“Television’s changing. And the ambition of the project is such that we’re going to take our time to get the second season right,” he told Variety.
Nolan and Joy confirmed to both outlets that the second season of Westworld won’t debut until 2018.
Westworld, like Game of Thrones before it, is a massive undertaking for HBO. The first season of the show reportedly required a $100 million budget, on par with many feature action films—though of course, at 10 hours it was also five times the length of the average blockbuster. The pilot alone was said to cost $25 million, more than its Game of Thrones counterpart.
Originally scheduled to premiere in 2015, Westworld‘s debut season was pushed to 2016, and rumors swirled that it might even be pushed again into 2017. Production was abruptly halted in January so that Nolan and Joy could have more time to finish the season’s final four scripts. Actor James Marsden, who plays the host Teddy on the show, has said the shutdown was also used to map out later seasons.
Given the scope of the show, and the logistical nightmares of its elaborate production, it makes sense that it would need more than a year to film its next season (and subsequent seasons). If Sunday night’s finale was any indication, then Westworld could undergo a reset of sorts, further complicating production of season two.
Committing to a two-year model is fairly unprecedented. Plenty of shows have released new seasons in longer increments than one year, but it’s rarely planned that way from the beginning. Often, scheduling conflicts, production issues, or showrunner changes will delay new seasons.
HBO’s The Leftovers, for instance, aired its second season in 2015, but won’t premiere its third season until 2017. The show probably could have premiered sooner (it wrapped production in September) but HBO may have wanted to delay its release in order to fill the spot in the spring vacated by Game of Thrones, itself delayed a few months for production reasons. And who knows when, if ever, we’ll see another season of True Detective, which last aired in 2015.
For HBO, the extended wait for more Westworld might not be ideal, but it’ll do whatever it can to ensure its newest hit runs smoothly. The show is now the most-watched debut season of an HBO show ever.