Despite having arguably the biggest Hollywood behemoth as its parent company, Disney+ has faced many of the same growing pains as other streaming services by way of excising lots of original content and canceling fan-favorite series. In particular, Disney+ developed a quasi-trend of dropping the axe on shows after their second seasons aired, such as The Mighty Ducks sequel series and Big Shot with John Stamos. Soon after the cancellation news went wide for Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., the company was revealed to be giving the boot to two other highly anticipated streaming projects, despite both new series having already finished filming. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
For nearly two years now, fantasy fanatics have been eagerly anticipating the small-screen adaptation of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s popular book series The Spiderwick Chronicles, which Disney+ first announced would be a six-episode series back in November 2021. Hailing from Daybreak co-creator and Heroes writer/producer Aron Eli Coleite, the episodic adaptation lined up a talented cast with Christian Slater, Jack Dylan Grazer, Joy Bryant, Mychaela Lee, Noah Cottrell and more. And production seemed to go off without much of a hitch, taking place in Vancouver from September 2022 to January 2023.
Unfortunately, Deadline reported that the already filmed series from Paramount Television Studios and 20th Television is no longer going to be a Disney+ original, and the company will be writing off its existence as part of a cost-saving measure that allegedly factors into the glut of shows that were removed earlier in the year. Disney execs previously revealed a shift in strategy to stick most closely with its own massive line of original IP, with less of a push on bringing outsider ideas into the mix.
At this point, Paramount is in the process of shopping the series around to other potential buyers, and I can’t imagine that other platforms will back away from a project with such a massive fanbase already built in. For those who want to relive the original adaptation, the feature film version of The Spiderwick Chronicles is arguably one of the best fantasy movies currently streaming, and it can be found with an MGM+ subscription.
Even before Disney+ went public with its Spiderwick adaptation news, the service announced in August 2021 a series order for Nautilus, a ten-part, live-action series focusing on the origin tale of Captain Nemo and his iconic submarine that the project’s title was derived from. Strike Back and Devils wriiter/producer James Dormer was tapped to bring the ten-episode series to life for Moonriver TV and Seven Stories. The series filmed from February 2022 through January 2023 throughout Australia, with stars such as Star Trek: Discovery’s Shazad Latif (as Nemo himself), Loki’s Richard E. Grant, The Witcher: Blood Origin’s Jacob Collins-Levy, and Black Sails vet Luke Arnold.
Despite its promise and similar built-in audience, Deadline reported that Disney+ also had Nautilus in mind as part of its previously announced cost-saving plan regarding its library of streaming content. Thankfully, this project is also seeking out a new home, with the streaming service’s execs working with the production companies to try and find another interested party to step in and air the show. Considering all ten episodes are already filmed, and are finished enough to have screenings, that should help convince other interested parties to sign on.
This is the latest bewildering move in Disney’s long-established attempt to bring a big-budget version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’s central captain to audiences, with David Fincher having notoriously been on board more than a decade ago before he jumped ship to Gone Girl, and even The Rock was set to star at one point.
While waiting to see if either of these new shows will land new homes, check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule to see what’ll be hitting the small screen in the near future.