As streaming services scramble to cut costs in the midst of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes to stay profitable to their shareholders, more and more movies and television shows are being taken from fans. The most recent of which is the already-complete book-to-screen adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was previously announced on Disney+ Day back in November 2021. Overall, this feels like a move that makes no sense in an entertainment industry that continues to make questionable decisions.
Deadline broke the news of The Spiderwick Chronicles' canceled fate on August 26, which gutted many fans of the popular fantasy children’s book series. The controversial decision comes on the heels of Disney and other media companies reevaluating their streaming programming to ensure only the most profitable shows and movies are getting made and being seen. It appears the move is Disney’s latest attempt at continuing to take the $1.5 billion write-down THR reported earlier this summer by removing and refusing to release titles.
I understand that it might make sense for Disney to cancel the show because they don’t want to deal with the costs of rolling it out and potentially not getting the viewership it desires. However, in the long run, the move might cost them even more than they have to lose. Thus, the controversial decision makes no sense.
Drying Up The ‘Pipeline’
One of the biggest reasons the cancellation of The Spiderwick Chronicles makes no sense is that it's going to dry up Disney+’s pipeline of content faster. Given the ongoing WGA and SAF-AFTRA strikes show no sign of reaching an agreement due to the AMPTP’s refusal to negotiate in good faith, as Variety reported, production in the industry has been halted for months. There are only so many shows that were completed prior to the strikes that are ready to be released. As the studios and streamers release them and nothing gets added, the pipeline becomes empty.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is one of those completed shows, and yet, instead of giving it a release date, Disney+ has decided to accelerate its dried-up pipeline by refusing to house it. Is the tax break worth the potential loss in subscribers when there’s nothing new coming out?
The Move Only Makes The WGA, SAG-AFTRA, And Fans More Angry
Disney is a member of the AMPTP, the association that’s supposed to be negotiating with the striking workers but, instead, continues to make questionable decisions — like canceling The Spiderwick Chronicles. They had the chance to show the striking writers and actors that they do care about the shows they spent months and years creating, and instead, they doubled down and proved, once again, that their priority is money. And the WGA and SAG-AFTRA already know this.
The same people who are spending millions and millions of dollars on projects just to throw them in the trash are accusing the WGA of not understanding the current state of the entertainment industry… https://t.co/rz14XuqP7GAugust 28, 2023
How do they expect the unions to negotiate in good faith, when they can’t even honor their prior contractual agreements to air a show they already bought rights to? It’s a move that’s only going to hurt them more in the long run.
Since The Spiderwick Chronicles is actually produced by Paramount Television Studios and 20th Century, many fans are wondering why Paramount+ doesn't just air the series. Certainly, their pipeline could use some help after the cancellation of several of its shows. However, no announcement has been made, and instead, Deadline reported that they would shop the series.
The move is common but questionable during the ongoing strikes, given that both unions bar their members from negotiating new deals. Paramount might have to wait until an agreement is reached before attempting to find the series a new home. And by then, it might be too late.
Unfortunately, The Spiderwick Chronicles isn’t the first or last show to be canceled due to streamers' desires to cut costs and turn a profit for their shareholders. Hopefully, when the unions reach a fair deal, they’ll be able to stop the streamers from canceling shows without ever releasing them. Until then, I’ll be waiting for The Spiderwick Chronicles to find a new home. For now, stay up to date on the unpredictable streaming calendar by checking out our 2023 TV schedule.