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J.J. Abrams sets Justice League Dark, The Shining-based TV shows at HBO Max

By Josh Weiss
JJ Abrams The Shining

J.J. Abrams' $500 million mega-deal with Warner Bros. just nabbed him a commitment for three original one-hour shows at HBO Max. Two of them are directly inspired by DC Comics and Stephen King.

The first genre show in the works is a project that draws inspiration from Justice League Dark, a DC team known for its collection of paranormal heroes and anti-heroes who tackle supernatural threats. They serve a similar purpose to Marvel's Doctor Strange by addressing the occult/horror-based problems that traditional characters and squads aren't able to cope with. 

Not much else is known about Abrams' take on them at this time, although it was previously reported in January that the director/producer/writer was developing something with the team. Its lineup has been known to include: Zatanna, John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Detective Chimp, Man-Bat, Traci Thirteen, Nabu, Upside-Down Man, and Blue Devil.

Swamp Thing and Constantine have enjoyed their own solo live-action shows on DC Universe and The CW. Both were canceled, but Constantine ended up as a regular character on Legends of Tomorrow. In addition, Justice League Dark received an animated feature-length movie in 2017.

Justice League Dark

The second series from Abrams is Overlook, a horror-thriller based on Stephen King's The Shining. Based on the initial description provided in the press release, the project will tell "the untold, terrifying stories of the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction."

Published in 1977, The Shining novel is about the Torrance family (Jack, Wendy, and Danny) as it contends with the malevolent spirits at a haunted resort in the Colorado mountains. Stanley Kubrick famously adapted the book in 1980, but King has disowned the film for decades. The author penned a sequel, Doctor Sleep, in 2013, and it was cinematically adapted by Mike Flanagan last year.

This marks Abrams' third time as producer on a King-based television show, after 11.22.63 and Castle Rock, both of which are Hulu Originals. Castle Rock was unique in that it took King's literary works and remixed them in new and interesting ways. In short, the show set a successful precedent for Overlook to emulate.

The Shining

The third series coming to HBO Max, Duster, is being written by  J.J. Abrams and Walking Dead scribe LaToya Morgan. It will follow a getaway driver for a crime syndicate in the 1970s Southwest.

The trio of upcoming series will fall under the banner of Bad Robot, the production company founded by Abrams and Katie McGrath. Abrams is executive-producing all of the announced projects along with Ben Stephenson (BR's Head of Television) and Rachel Rusch Rich (BR's executive vice president of television).

“What an amazing start to our association with the wildly imaginative Bad Robot team under J.J. and Katie,” Kevin Reilly, HBO Max’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “What could be better than an original J.J. idea and then Warner Bros. letting them loose on iconic I.P. from Stephen King and the DC Universe, and to provide more must-have programming on HBO Max?”

JJ Abrams

Bad Robot's other collaborations with Warner Bros. Television are Westworld (HBO), Lovecraft Country (HBO), and yet another King adaptation, Lisey's Story (Apple TV+).

The WB mega-deal also applies to films. Abrams' first big screen adventure on that front will be The Pinkerton, a supernatural western about an agent of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency.