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Netflix cancels in-production titles after subscriber loss

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Apr 2022, 10:53am
Netflix had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year. (Photo / File)
Netflix had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year. (Photo / File)

Netflix cancels in-production titles after subscriber loss

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Apr 2022, 10:53am

Netflix is already making moves after the distressing news it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year, resulting in a stock price plunge which wiped billions off its market value.

While the streaming company flagged it would introduce a cheaper ad-supported subscription option and crack down on the common practice of password sharing, executives also hinted that it would be cutting back on content spend.

The first casualty of that cost-cutting appears to be its animation slate with The Wrap reporting Netflix has ousted the head of its animation department, Phil Rynda, and with him several staff members and in-production projects.

The most anticipated of the cancelled titles is Bone, an adaptation of Jeff Smith's beloved quest comic series. There have been attempts to adapt Bone to either TV or film since the late-1990s with the Netflix version confirmed in 2019.

There had been no updates on the project until it was cancelled this month. Smith posted a comic strip on Twitter that referenced his heartbreak at yet another failed crack.

In the animation upheaval, two other projects were also canned – Toil and Trouble from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic creator Lauren Faust and a The Twits adaptation. The latter is an interesting move given Netflix bought the Roald Dahl Story Company seven months ago.

There are at least two other Roald Dahl animated adaptations in the works at Netflix. Both are based off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and are in collaboration with New Zealand film-maker Taika Waititi.

Separately, Bloomberg reporter Lucas Shaw revealed Netflix has axed the sequel to Will Smith action fantasy movie Bright. Bright was released in late-2017 and was one of Netflix's early successes in original film.

Despite being dragged by critics, Bright was popular with audiences (11 million accounts watched it in the first three days according to Nielsen figures at the time) and the sequel was greenlit within the month. It's been in production ever since.

An advertisement for Netflix's popular show Bridgerton is seen outside its office building in Los Angeles. Photo / AP

An advertisement for Netflix's popular show Bridgerton is seen outside its office building in Los Angeles. Photo / AP

Shaw suggested the timing of Bright 2's cancellation was not related to Will Smith's assault of Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars. In the wake of the Oscars incident, Netflix cancelled another Smith project – Fast & Loose – which had already suffered production issues when it lost director David Leitch to a Ryan Gosling movie.

In recent years as its originals slate has grown, Netflix is often quick to cancel shows, with few making it past their third season. The reasons are often obscure albeit some decisions were attributed to the higher cost of Covid protocols during production.

Shows such as Tuca & Bertie, One Day at a Time, Glow, Sense8, Lady Dynamite, The Baby-Sitters Club, I Am Not OK With This and Teenage Bounty Hunters were all axed despite a passionate fan base.

Even high-profile projects such as Idris Elba's Turn Up Charlie, or anime adaptation Cowboy Bebop were culled after one season rather than be given a chance to find their feet with a sophomore instalment.

Some beloved and long-running shows on broadcast TV, such as Parks & Recreation and Seinfeld, had rocky starts either creatively or ratings-wise and only found their groove later on.

Netflix is in dire straits after the company reported a loss of subscribers for the first time in 10 years. The news led to a huge drop in its share price as investors started to wonder if the golden era of streaming was over as the largest player struggled to find new customers in a mature market.

- Wenlei Ma, news.com.au