The decision by DC Universe to put its production of Swamp Thing on hold for now could reflect the fact that competition in the entertainment streaming industry is heating up, Wilmington Regional Film Commissioner Johnny Griffin said Wednesday morning.
The Swamp Thing hiatus allows DC Universe, owned by Warner Brothers, to ponder its position in a rapidly changing world of streaming entertainment, Griffin said. Earlier this month, Disney announced the advent next fall of Disney+, a channel that will offer most of what’s in Disney’s archives, plus the Star Wars series and movies from Pixar and Marvel. This announcement followed an earlier one from Apple about its new Apple TV Plus, also launching later this year, that will offer a selection of channels as well as new content from big names in the industry.
Originally, the big player in entertainment streaming was Netflix, but Amazon Prime and others are jostling for market share. AT&T plans to get into the market as well sometime this year, immediately offering the films it acquired when it purchased Time Warner, but promising original content in 2020.
The streaming industry, said Griffin, “is trying to find its footing.” One question various competing streaming services must address, he said, is just how many different services the consumer will pay for.
Swamp Thing, filming in Wilmington, had originally planned to shoot 13 episodes, and indications were strong that the series would be renewed for a second season and return to the EUE Screen Gems Studio here, where it occupies several sound stages and offices. Now the season will be capped at 10 episodes and there is no decision on the show’s future. Writers are recrafting the script for Episode 10, which now will be the season finale.
Regardless of how streaming competition shakes out, “the good thing for us is that all these companies are producing their own content, and we are in the business of helping produce that content,” Griffin added.
Griffin said that the Wilmington Regional Film Commission is having conversations with several streaming services, marketing Wilmington as a filming location for some of their original shows.
Recently, film officials projected that Swamp Thing could spend as much as $85 million locally on production of its first season. A truncated season will mean the project will spend less, logging less in qualifying expenses for the N.C. Film and Entertainment Grant that helped lure it to the state.