Netflix has pulled the plug on several animated projects, including executive producer Ava DuVernay’s Wings of Fire; “Antiracist Baby,” a series for preschoolers; and With Kind Regards from Kindergarten, a film tailored for teens.
The streaming service also scrapped Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, a documentary intended to serve as a companion piece to Stamped From the Beginning, a hybrid documentary and screenplay detailing race in the United States. Stamped From the Beginning continues to progress and is currently in post-production.
Sources at Netflix emphasize that the decisions not to move forward with these projects were creative rather than cost-related, meaning they would have happened regardless of the company’s slower revenue growth. Insiders also note that animation takes longer to mature than live action. Given the comparatively lengthy schedule, it’s less uncommon for films or TV shows to return to development or split up entirely due to creative decisions.
That may be the case, but the news comes as Netflix laid off about 150 employees (about 2% of its workforce) to cut costs after a weak start to 2022. In the first quarter of this year, the company reported a net loss of 200,000 streaming customers, its first drop in a decade. Shortly after announcing a drop in subscribers last month, Netflix Pink laid off about 25 employees in its marketing group, some of whom worked in Tudum’s fan-focused content team.
Netflix announced in April 2021 that Wings of Fire, based on the children’s books by Tui T. Sutherland, would be adapted into a 10-episode animated series. DuVernay was set to execute the show, a fantasy series about dragon tribes at war in a generation-long struggle over lost treasure.
A film version of Kind regards from Kindergarten, a darker children’s book about two young friends who drift away while one loses his imagination, had not been publicly announced before the animated title was scrapped.
Antiracist Baby, based on the children’s book of the same name by antiracist scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, was conceived as a series of animated music vignettes for preschoolers. Kendi also wrote Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, which will no longer run alongside the adult-heavy Stamped From the Beginning. These three projects were made to explore racism for audiences of all ages.
Netflix is still investing heavily in animation, with Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, My Dad the Bounty Hunter, and Gabby’s Dollhouse among the film and TV shows in the works . The studio recently released The Mitchells vs. the Machines and plans to unveil director Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animated version of Pinocchio later this year.