DC Universe Cancels 'Swamp Thing'

The streaming service DC Universe has announced it is not picking up a second season of the series "Swamp Thing," which already seen its season one episode order cut from 13 to 10.

Based on the DC Comics characters created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, the one-hour drama series stars Crystal Reed as a CDC researcher who returns to small Louisiana small town to investigate a lethal swamp-born virus. As she investigates the mysterious outbreak, she realizes that not only is the swamp not what it seems, but the love of her life might be alive as well.

Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman are writers and executive producers on the series, with James Wan and Michael Clear executive producing with Wan's Atomic Monster banner in association with Warner Bros. Television. Atomic Monster's Rob Hackett is a co-producer.

It's still not entirely clear why the show was canceled by DC Universe. The streaming service has struggled to find an audience and some of its earlier original series debuted to mixed reviews. And although the "Swamp Thing" pilot received solid reviews, it's an expensive show to make, with sources at Warner Bros. Television pegging the season one cost estimate at $78-81 million for the original 13 episode first season.

However, there are some conflicting stories about the financing details. In April, the episode order for season one was cut from 13 episodes back to 10 and when the move was announced, it was attributed by anonymous sources as being due to "creative reasons." But several sources familiar with the production say that while there have been some notable creative clashes, the primary reason for the episode cut was financial.

The series was shot in North Carolina and one reason for that decision was that the North Carolina has a film rebate incentive program that will cover 25% of applicable production costs. So in rough terms, the production apparently expected to receive somewhere in the range of $20 million worth of rebated incentives towards the production of season one. Instead, the incentive ended up being in the range of $12 million, which a source at the production company argued was the primary reason for the episode cut.

But those figures don't seem to add up with what the N.C. Department of Commerce expected to pay towards the "Swamp Thing" production. According to several published reports, the production had requested $16.3 million in grant funding based. Which is less that the 25% percent request you would expect on a show that reportedly costs upwards of $80 million. In the end, the grant totaled $12 million, which would fall in line with the request you would expect to see from a season costing in the range of $60 million.

And all of this confusion is added on top of a budget misunderstanding earlier in the year, which almost led to the film rebate's $30 million annual funding being cut after some members of the legislature mistakenly believed the program  more than $60 million of unused funds in its account. The dispute was worked out before the vote to cut the funds took place, but the uncertainty over future funding was also cited by one producer of the series as being a "concern moving forward."

Representatives from Atomic Monster, Warner Brothers Television and the North Carolina Department of Commerce have so far declined to respond to questions on the record about the cancellation or the final rebate paid to the company.