Netflix has cancelled numerous animation projects, including executive producer Ava DuVernay’s “Wings of Fire,” a preschool series called “Antiracist Baby,” and a film called “With Kind Regards From Kindergarten.”
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” a documentary that was supposed to be a companion piece to “Stamped From the Beginning,” a hybrid documentary and narrative feature about race in the United States, was also cancelled by the streaming service. “Stamped From the Beginning” is still in post-production and continuing forward.
Netflix sources emphasize that the decisions not to proceed with these projects were artistic rather than financial, implying that they would have happened regardless of the company’s slower revenue growth. Insiders also point out that animation takes longer to develop than live-action films. Given the length of the production process, it’s not uncommon for films or television shows to be pushed back into development or to split apart entirely over artistic decisions.
That may be true, but the announcement comes as Netflix has fired off about 150 employees (about 2% of its total workforce) in an effort to slash costs following a disappointing start to 2022. The company recorded a net loss of 200,000 streaming users in the first quarter of this year, its first drop in a decade. Netflix laid off roughly 25 marketing employees, including some members of the Tudum fan-focused content team, shortly after disclosing a drop in subscribers last month.
The animated 10-episode series “Wings of Fire,” based on Tui T. Sutherland’s children’s books, will premiere on Netflix in April 2021. The show, a fantasy series involving dragon tribes, was planned to have DuVernay executive produce it.
Before the cartoon title was rejected, a film adaptation of “With Kind Regards From Kindergarten,” a darker children’s novel about two childhood friends who wander as one of them loses his imagination, had not been publicly publicized.
“Antiracist Baby,” based on the children’s book of the same name by antiracist researcher Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, was envisaged as a series of animated vignettes set to music for preschoolers. Kendi also published “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” which will no longer run alongside “Stamped From the Beginning,” which is geared toward adults. These three projects were created to investigate racism for a wide range of audiences.
Netflix continues to invest extensively in animation, with projects such as “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous,” “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight,” “My Dad the Bounty Hunter,” and “Gabby’s Dollhouse” in the pipeline. The studio recently published “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” and will release director Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animation adaptation of “Pinocchio” later this year.