Netflix has dropped Meghan Markle’s animated series as part of a wave of cutbacks prompted by the streaming service’s drop in subscribers.
Pearl, the working title for the Markle-created show, has been officially canceled, Deadline reported Sunday.
The show, which was created by the Duchess of Sussex through Archewell Productions, was still only in the development stage.
Markle and Prince Harry established Archewell Productions in autumn 2020 in an effort to create scripted series, docuseries, documentaries, features and children’s programming. Pearl was expected to be the first animated series created by the production company.
Despite dropping Pearl, insiders claim Netflix remains optimistic about the Archewell deal and has a number of projects planned, including a documentary series called Heart of Invictus, which follows the recent Invictus Games.
Netflix has dropped Meghan Markle’s animated series as part of a wave of cutbacks prompted by the streaming service’s drop in subscribers. Markle and Prince Harry are pictured at a track and field event at the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands on April 17, 2022
Netflix has made several cuts in recent days, including dropping two other children’s shows and firing staff.
Last week, the streaming service scratched Dino Daycare, which was created by Jeff King, and the South Asian-inspired adventure Boons and Curses. Both shows were already in production.
Sources familiar with the cancellations told Deadline that Netflix had warned producers to take projects still in the development stage elsewhere.
It is unclear if they offered Archewell Productions similar advice.
The streaming giant shelled out a $100million in the deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in September 2020.
As of yet, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are yet to produce any published content for the streaming giant. But the company has pinned hopes that their upcoming series documenting the recent Invictus Games will prove value for the money.
Markle (pictured April 17) announced the now-canceled program last July. She was taking on the roles of ‘creator and executive producer’ for the animated series
The show, which was created by the Duchess of Sussex through Archewell Productions, was still only in the development stage. Insiders allege the streamer still has a number of projects planned with the couple (Pictured: Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles, California)
Markle announced the now-canceled program last July. She was taking on the roles of ‘creator and executive producer’ – marking the first time the former actress and Suits star would work in the position of EP.
Filmmaker David Furnish, husband to musician Elton John, was also expected to serve as an executive producer on the series.
Markle said Pearl would ‘weave together fantasy and history’ while focusing ‘on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl’ as she attempts to ‘overcome life’s daily challenges’.
While few details had been released about the series, many believed the show was based – at least in part – on Markle’s own childhood, citing how she named the show and its title character Pearl, the origin meaning of her name.
The name Meghan originated in Wales, where it is traditionally spelled Megan, however, it originally came from the Greek name Margaret, derived from the word margaritēs, which translates to ‘pearl’.
Pearl was not the first time that Markle has seemingly chosen to draw on her own life as the inspiration for her professional projects – something that she did most recently with her debut children’s book The Bench, which was firmly panned by readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Many believed Pearl was based – at least in part – on Markle’s own childhood. Markle and Prince Harry are pictured at the Invictus Games opening ceremony in the Netherlands on April 16
Upon news that it had shed 200,000 subscribers, its shares plunged by 25%. So far this year, its shares are down about 40%, after markets jolted in January when it said that subscriber growth would slow significantly in 2022
Netflix closed on Friday at $190.36 per share
Netflix also began firing staff after missing its subscriber target by 200,000 people and watching the value of its shares tank by 50 percent in a month.
The company made the layoffs at Tudum, a website filled with stories that are meant to market Netflix’s programs, it was revealed on Thursday. At least 10-15 staff tweeted about being fired, although the exact number dismissed remains unclear.
The site, named as an onomatopoeia for the sound you hear when a Netflix show begins, was meant to allow subscribers insider access to the company’s shows.
Netflix refused to tell the Los Angeles Times how many jobs were cut, merely saying ‘our fan website Tudum is an important priority for the company.’
Some of those laid off took to Twitter, saying that the company had only hired them months earlier.
There have been several hypotheses for why the streamer is losing eyeballs, with many including Tesla CEO (and potential future Twitter chief) Elon Musk blaming ‘the woke mind virus.’
Responding to a tweet about the subscription service’s devastating performance, Musk said: ‘The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable.’
A follower then responded: ‘Woke mind virus is the biggest threat to the civilization.’
The world’s richest man replied to him: ‘Yes.’
Fans applauded Musk’s comments with some even urging him to take over Netflix after he concludes his Twitter deal.
Others, however, have suggested that the real problem is Netflix’s habit of canceling beloved shows before their time, angering fans.
Popular TV dramas like The OA, Marco Polo, and The Punisher are being cancelled by the service after series two – leaving fans furious and threatening to cancel their subscriptions because they no longer want to ‘invest their time in a series’ over fears it will be ‘culled’.
Netflix are axing their own shows earlier than ever before and it’s thought to be one of the main reasons the platform is quickly losing subscribers, according to new analysis
The streaming giant are cancelling many of their own TV series as new data reveals fewer that one in five original shows launched in 2017 reached season three – compared to just 31 per cent in 2015
Meanwhile, over half of Netflix’s own reality TV shows and dramas released in 2018 have not been commissioned for a second series, compared with more than a third launched in 2017 and 28 percent in 2016, The Times reported.
It comes as the streaming behemoth has lost 200,000 subscribers in just three months, while shareholders of the US firm have been warned to expect another two million subscribers to leave in the three months to July.
Bosses say a second price-rise in a year has played a part, while the company has lost 700,000 following its decision to pull out of Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Netflix said the Covid boom had ‘created a lot of noise’ and blamed the slowdown on the return to normality after two years of lockdowns.
It also blamed password sharing for the rise in cancelled accounts, as it estimated that about 10million households worldwide are watching its service for free by using the account of a friend or another family member.
The company has now started testing different ways of curbing password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru – and could extend this elsewhere if it proves successful. Bosses are also considering turning the service into a low-fee subscription supported by ads.
Filmmaker David Furnish (right), husband to musician Elton John (left), was also expected to serve as an executive producer on Markle’s show, Pearl. He and John are pictured together at July 2019 premiere of The Lion King in London
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are pictured at the Invictus Games on April 17. They are working on a Netflix documentary series called Heart of Invictus, which follows the event
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen smiling while they visit the track and field event at the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands on April 17, 2022
Netflix also claimed that the market had now been ‘saturated’ by rising competition from streaming services including Disney+, Apple TV, Now TV, Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount, the cost-of-living crisis gripping the US, Canada and Western Europe, and its decision to quit streaming in Russia after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
The rapid rise of rival Disney+, which has seen billions of dollars of investment in recent years, has seen competition in the streaming market increase dramatically.
And other services like Amazon Prime Video, which has captured a share of the live football market in the UK, and AppleTV+, which has seen success through football comedy Ted Lasso, have also seen people turn away from Netflix.
Despite the streaming service’s recent issues, there have been some successes, with dystopian Korean series Squid Game proving a huge hit, and season one of period drama Bridgerton taking the world by storm.
However, fan favorites such as Bloodline and Jessica Jones were cancelled after their third season, leaving viewers frustrated and ‘tired of starting something new only for it to be cancelled two years later’.