HBO’s ambitious, but beleaguered ‘Westworld’ has shut down production, but just temporarily.  The network issued a statement explaining this decision:

“As we head into the final phase of production on ‘Westworld’, we’ve made the decision to take a brief hiatus in order to get ahead of the writing.”

The show is being written by executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.  They only have four more scripts to complete for the first season, which was originally expected to premiere in 2015.  HBO is confident that ‘Westworld’ will premier this year.

Production was originally reported to resume in March, but newer reports state that it could happen sooner, in February.  There were concerns that the break could endanger the valuable $12 million in tax breaks the production was granted by the state of California, but as long as the show doesn’t take more than 120 days in total (including any more that occur once production resumes), the show will still receive the incentives.

This is quite important, as HBO programming president Michael Lombardo explained last year:

“This is the truth of ‘Westworld’. It’s expensive, but not irresponsibly so. The pilot’s really beautiful and really powerful. It was a great starting point. At the same time when you’re doing a series you have to go, OK, what’s the next episode? What’s bringing you in? You can’t just be a spectacle every week. People ultimately are going to get inert to that.”

‘Westworld’ is inspired by a successful 1973 film, which depicted a futuristic amusement park, where guests could pay $1,000 a day to interact with completely realistic androids in period settings.  These interactions included sexual encounters and duels to the death.  In the film, the androids malfunction and begin murdering the attendees.

The HBO remake is apparently VERY HEAVILY emphasizing the “sexual” part from the film.  In October, the production was embroiled in controversy when a casting notice for extras was leaked revealing some extremely risqué demands.  (You can read about that here.)

How huge is this production?  It boasts 64 stars, 185 crew members, and nearly 5,000 extras/stand-ins!  And on top of that, some of the 64 stars are playing multiple roles, as the android actors will be remade after they are destroyed and programmed with new personae.  James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton are among those playing these automatons.

Also part of the main cast are Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tessa Thompson, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins, Jr., Simon Quarterman and Angela Sarafyan.

Among the producers are J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions.

Are you ready to go West?  What do you think about this delay?  Is it a bad sign?  Or do you think it will actually benefit the final program, by allowing more room to develop?

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline