Netflix axes more high-profile projects as it announces major round of layoffs

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Netflix has axed a number of its biggest in-development projects as its epic round of cost-saving measures continues. 

Variety reports that the streaming giant has pulled the plug on a number of animated series, the most high-profile of which is Wings Of Fire, which was being overseen by Selma's Ava DuVernay. 

Wings Of Fire, which Netflix have been working on with DuVernay since 2020, is based on Tui T. Sutherland's series of books and had been expected to be 10 40-minute episodes. The story followed an epic war between dragon tribes who inhabit the mysterious world of Pyrrhia.

As well as Wings Of Fire, the streaming service has also culled Antiracist Baby, an animated series aimed at very young children, and, With Kind Regards From Kindergarten, which was a movie pointed towards the same demographic. 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, a companion piece of Netflix's hybrid documentary and scripted movie, Stamped From the Beginning, which is due to air later this year, has also been canceled. 

Amid Netflix's current woes, the streamer's animation department has been hit the hardest in terms of cutbacks. Back in April, Netflix's Director of Creative Leadership and Development for Original Animation – Phil Rynda, was let go, and many in-house animated projects, including an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Twits, a highly-anticipated animated series based on Jeff Smith's beloved comic book series Bone, plus Lauren Faust's Toil and Trouble, were also canceled. 

This was followed by news that Pearl, the big-budget animated series the streamer had been developing with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, had also been nixed. 

The cancelations were the second instalment in a double header of bad news for Netflix as it also announced a major round of layoffs. 

What's the situation there?

The streaming service has announced that it's cutting 150 jobs, largely from employees in its office in California.  The losses are substantial and account for about 2% of its workers in the US.

Netflix has issued a statement about the job losses, which reads as follows: "As we explained on earnings, our slowing revenue growth means we are also having to slow our cost growth as a company. 

"So sadly, we are letting around 150 employees go today, mostly U.S.-based. These changes are primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance, which makes them especially tough as none of us want to say goodbye to such great colleagues. We’re working hard to support them through this very difficult transition."

Details on which department the redundancies have come from have not been disclosed by Netflix, but a report from the Los Angeles Times has said that recruiting, communications and also the content department were all affected. It also says that it may well be the start a wider round of job losses later in 2022. 

Analysis: Netflix's woes continue

We all know why these cost-saving measures are happening. Netflix continues to reel from the announcement that it has lost 200,000 subscribers since the start of 2022, an announcement that has wiped more than $70 billion from the company's valuation. 

Add to this last week's news that Netflix has internally confirmed an intention to begin cracking down on password sharing before the end of 2022 and you see a clear pattern.  They need to scale back. 

Netflix's executives will hope that an increase in revenue from their password sharing crackdown will alleviate some of the pain, as will their plans for a cheaper, advert-supported subscription model later on in 2022. But it's clearly not forecast to be enough. 

We won't know if Netflix has suffered another drop in subscribers until their next earnings call, but this isn't the behaviour of an organisation which is treating the drop in subscribers at the start of the year as a blip, it's the behavior of somebody battening down the hatches.

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…