When it comes to animation, Netflix has some decidedly mixed news this week: it's saved one animated show from cancelation, but it's also canceled two of its own animated movies – and it's reshuffling its animation unit too.
Let's start with the happier news. Star Trek: Prodigy, which was canceled mid-season by Paramount Plus, is moving to Netflix. It's going to screen the first season and will screen the second when it finishes production. So you can expect season one before the end of 2023, and season two should follow in 2024.
The Star Trek: Prodigy show was the latest victim of the universe's most terrifying villain, the tax write-off: Paramount Plus dropped it at the same time as Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, Queen of the Universe and The Game. The show is a critical success, with an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, so clearly Netflix thinks it's better seen than sentenced to death by spreadsheet.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean other productions have been spared the ax.
What's Netflix canceled this week?
According to Variety, there are big changes at Netflix's animation unit that will mean job cuts and the shutting down of two animated movies currently in production, Escape from Beverly Hills and Tunga.
The latter film was bought in auction by Netflix in 2019, and it's a mythical epic rooted in the mythology of Zimbabwean Shona culture. Although it's no longer in production Netflix hasn't written it off altogether. Variety says "the film will remain at Netflix and has been sent back into development".
Escape from Beverly Hills is a film that hadn't been announced previously, and about which we don't know anything other than the fact that Netflix intends to sell it to any interested party.
The cuts are horrible, of course, and they're not limited to Netflix: there have been waves of layoffs in the animation industry, with studios including Warner Bros. and DreamWorks cutting their spending on animation in recent years – in the case of DreamWorks, announcing 70 job losses just last week – even though adult animation is doing very well on streaming services.
As Variety says, Netflix animation is having its biggest year ever in 2023. Like other studios, it's moving to more outsourced production in order to deliver the same amount of content with fewer people in-house.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.