Netflix cancels Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's $100 million animated series

(Image credit: Joe Pugliese / Harpo Productions)

Netflix has proved that no name is too big for the axe: It's put a pin in Pearl, the planned animated series from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Over the weekend, Netflix confirmed that Pearl, one of two confirmed productions it had committed to make with Harry and Meghan as part of the deal they signed in 2020, was now not going ahead. 

The couple's deal with Netflix was agreed in the summer of 2020 and promised that their new production company, Archewell, would deliver Netflix with an array of scripted series, docuseries, documentaries, features and children's programming as part of the package. 

Official numbers were never disclosed, but reports put the couple's potential earnings from the deal at north of $100 million. 

Thus far, only two projects had been announced, Heart of Invictus, a documentary focusing on a series of competitors who took part in 2022's Invictus Games. The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, which Prince Harry founded in 2014. That series is still due to air in late 2022, while Pearl, the other confirmed project, has now bitten the dust. 

The move comes as Netflix continues to reel from the announcement that it has lost 200,000 subscribers since the start of 2022. That drop has seen $50 billion fall off the company's value and was accompanied by news that Netflix had re-evaluted many of its in-development projects, with the streamer's animation projects hit particularly hard. As Megan and Harry can now testify...

What was Pearl going to be about?

According to Archewell's website, where details still remain, Pearl promised to follow the "heroic adventures of a 12-year-old girl who is inspired by influential women from history." 

Markle was an executive producer on the project, along with David Furnish, while Amanda Rynda, whose credits include DC Super Hero Girls, had been booked as showrunner. 

Is the deal with the Prince and Princess now in trouble?

No, according to Deadline, whose sources indicate that Netflix is still confident that the partnership with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will prove fruitful. 

Pearl was still in development, with production yet to begin. No voice cast had been announced as yet. It seems likely that the series' cost, which was pitched at more than $100 million, was mounting up and Netflix have balked. 

Analysis: Netflix's woes continue

Pearl wasn't the only animated series that Netflix dropped over the weekend, it also dropped Dino Daycare and the South Asian-inspired adventure Boons and Curses, both of which were in production. 

Taken in isolation, Netflix's decision to not move forward with three animated series isn't a crushing blow, but as part of the team-up with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, which was announced with such fanfare in 2020, the move is embarrassing and will attract headlines all over the world, all of which will make reference to Netflix's current struggles. 

The streaming giant desperately needs some good news. It also needs to stop the drip, drip, drip strategy of canceling a different show every day, otherwise its stock price, already battered from the drop in subscribers, will only go one way.  

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…