UPDATE: In an interview with Deadline, Guy Gasser, director of the North Carolina Film Office, has debunked this story. Following this break down of the story, the reason for the cancellation of the series remains a mystery. Original story follows.
“Why was Swamp Thing canceled?” seems to be the question on everyone’s lips right now. As the news of the cancelation continues to settle in, it seems that some light may finally be shed on everything that happened.
When the news of the shortened season first appeared, there were some rumors of it happening due to budgetary issues. What we didn’t know at the time, however, was that it looks as though it had to do with the tax credits Warner Bros. expected to get from the state of North Carolina.
Over the years, tax credits have become a way for states and countries to lure production companies to film within their borders. The idea is that the states make up a chunk of that money by what is spent by cast and crew, and by bringing business to local companies.
Cartoonist, writer, and actor John Gholson shared some stories he had collected via his Twitter account that clarify things a bit. Gholson had apparently been following the overall story for some time.
It seems that when the original negotiations happened between North Carolina and Warner Bros., a tax credit of $40M was promised if Swamp Thing filmed there. After the deal was struck is when the problems began.
According to a report from the Star News, when the state went to work on its 2019-2020 budget, it was reported that the film grant bank account had $67,380,519 in it. This prompted the chairs of the budget committee to decide that it didn’t need its $31M in annual funding.
Rep. Ted Davis Jr. who heads up the filming fund had to scramble to explain that over half the money in the bank account was spoken for, and the other half was in negotiations. The suspension of the annual $31M would have left the fund broke.
Once all of that was corrected, and this is where things get a bit wobbly. Apparently, North Carolina had said it would pay for upwards of $30M of the show’s first season, but then that was reduced down to $12M for the entire season. This shot the cost of the series up to an uncomfortable level for Warner Bros.
Following the financial issues, you also had the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner come to a close. According to a report from Deadline, the new leadership at Warner Media was not ‘particularly high on Swamp Thing,’ and that helped seal the deal.
It sounds as though it was just the perfect storm that surrounded Swamp Thing. From financial issues to new bosses coming in to helm the company, the deck suddenly became very stacked against this series. It certainly doesn’t make the cancellation hurt any less, but at least there is some clarity beginning to appear.