EXCLUSIVE: Even Netflix’s in-house members of the Royal Family are not immune to a wave of cutbacks going on as the streamer recalibrates after a precipitous stock drop incurred after a drop in subscribers. Netflix has quietly dropped Pearl, the working title of an animated series that was created by Meghan Markle through Archewell Productions, the shingle the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry set up at Netflix in fall of 2020 to create scripted series, docuseries, documentaries, features and children’s programming. Pearl was to be Archewell’s first animated series.
Pearl, which Markle exec produced with David Furnish, was announced with fanfare last summer, described as a family series that centers on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl who finds inspiration in a variety of influential women throughout history. At the time Markle said, “Like many girls of her age, our heroine Pearl is on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to overcome life’s daily challenges. I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history. David Furnish and I have been eager to bring this special series to light, and I am delighted we are able to announce it today.”
It is worth noting that the project was still in the development stage, and insiders at the streamer said there remains bullishness on the Archewell deal with a number of projects percolating, including the upcoming documentary series Heart of Invictus. And Markle has spent enough time in Hollywood as an actress to have heard the word “no” in the past.
Netflix scratched two other kids animated series last week that were in production — Dino Daycare from Ada Twist, Scientist executive producer Chris Nee, and the South Asian-inspired adventure Boons and Curses.
Word in town is that even before recent events, Netflix had been telling producers to take some development projects elsewhere, after those producers had been given indication they were priorities. Clearly, Netflix’s inordinately high content spend is being reevaluated. Many have felt that the Netflix “movie a week” mantra was an overreach, for instance. While Netflix felt pressure to generate originals to bolster its library as studios cut back on licensing titles as they started their own rival streaming services, there is reason that generating that much content has never been done before. It is just unreasonable to expect its execs to manage that many projects, and have enough of them turn out to be memorable. Expect the Netflix model to evolve; Quality control and selectivity is actually a virtue for a mature streaming service.