The success of Westworld was not a foregone conclusion. Far from it, in fact. Despite the Nolan/Abrams pedigree, the expensive series was troubled during filming, and shut down production altogether for two months earlier this year. Originally due to finish shooting last November, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy completed the scripts for season one this year, and filming resumed in the spring, on track to premiere in the fall.
And they pulled it off. Somehow, despite the delays and concerns about the budget, despite witnessing the failure of HBO’s ambitious big-budget venture Vinyl, Westworld arrived on time and grew steadily in the ratings after its October debut. People are watching, and, finally, after years of trying, HBO has another hit on its hands!
The post-finale ratings numbers confirm it: as Deadline reports, “With an average of 12 million viewers across all platforms, Westworld now ranks as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever.” (Yes, even beating out the first season of juggernaut Game of Thrones.) The total of 12 million viewers is the combination of initial airings, repeat airings, DVR, on-demand, and streaming options. The season finale, “The Bicameral Mind,” ties Westworld‘s season high with adults in the all-important 18-49 age bracket, earning a 1.0 rating and hitting a new high with 2.24 million viewers for the episode’s initial airing. That tops the previous week’s numbers for episode 109, which saw 2.1 million viewers for the first airing of “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”
Westworld went from shutting down in the middle of production to beating a ratings record, all within a year. Not too shabby for a show about robots and cowboys. Not bad at all!
In other news, Westworld has picked up yet another award nomination this week. On Monday, the show was saluted for its excellent writing with two nominations at the Writers Guild Awards, and, yesterday, the cinematography was recognized with a nomination of its own. The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) announced the television nominees for their 31st annual Outstanding Achievement Awards. Westworld made the short list with its first episode, “The Original,” nominated in the category of “Movie, Miniseries, or Pilot for Television.” Paul Cameron was director of photography for the Westworld pilot, establishing the style for the episodes to come.
The other nominees include:
Balazs Bolygo, HSC, BSC for Harley and the Davidsons, “Amazing Machine” (Discovery)
Jim Denault, ASC for All The Way (HBO)
Alex Disenhof for The Exorcist, “Chapter One: And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee” (Fox)
Igor Martinovic for The Night Of, “Subtle Beast” (HBO)
This is Cameron’s second nomination at the ASC Awards; his first was in 2005 for the Tom Cruise/Jaime Foxx film Collateral.
We’ll find out if Westworld is taking home the prize on February 4th, 2017, during the ceremony at the Hollywood & Highland Ray Dolby Ballroom.
There’s strong competition from other HBO productions, along with the well-shot historical Harley series, and the visually interesting Exorcist. What do you make of Westworld‘s chances in the category, readers?