EXCLUSIVE: Amid a focus on content curation and Disney-owned IP, Disney+ is not proceeding with The Spiderwick Chronicles, its live-action series adaptation of the popular children’s fantasy books, Deadline has learned.
The eight-episode series, from Paramount Television Studios and 20th Television, has been completed. It is currently being shopped by Paramount to other potential buyers.
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The decision comes as Disney — along with other media companies — have been reevaluating their streaming strategies by cutting programming costs with a renewed focus on profitability. It is part of the major content write-off announced by Disney in May, I hear.
“We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy at the time. “As a result, we will be removing certain content from our streaming platforms, and currently expect to take an impairment charge of approximately $1.5 to $1.8 billion.”
Shortly after that announcement was made, dozens of original series and specials were taken off Disney+ as well as Hulu. In July, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that there will be a pullback in making Marvel and Star Wars series and movies for Disney+ too. Overall, Disney in February unveiled a plan for a $3 billion cut in non-sports content spend.
Additionally, Disney+’s live-action strategy also has been reassessed. The Spiderwick Chronicles was a rare Disney+ series based on non-Disney IP coming from an outside studio.
Moving forward, Disney Branded Television, which supplies Disney+ with non-Marvel, Star Wars or Nat Geo live-action content, will be leaning more heavily into Disney-owned IP, I hear.
A prime example of that is the upcoming Percy Jackson TV series, based on the novels published by Disney’s Hyperion Books.
There will be exceptions, I hear, including the upcoming Goosebumps series from Sony TV, which I hear will air on both Disney+ and Hulu, and a new Doctor Who installment from BBC.
There is new content in the pipeline, whose development and green light have been put on hold because of the ongoing strikes as the Disney+ non-Marvel/Star Wars live-action slate is going through a changeover, with most of the first wave of original series no longer on the platform. The latest cancellation came yesterday for Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. after two seasons.
The Spiderweb Chronicles was first announced as part of the Disney+ Day in November 2021. It went into production last September in Canada and wrapped filming in early 2023. Christian Slater, who had a one-season deal to play villain Mulgarath, stars alongside Jack Dylan Grazer, Lyon Daniels, Noah Cottrell, Joy Bryant and Mychala Lee.
Based on the series of bestselling books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a contemporary American gothic coming-of-age story. Upon leaving New York and moving to Michigan and into their run-down ancestral home—The Spiderwick Estate—with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate, fantastical world.
Aron Eli Coleite is showrunner and executive produces with Holly Black, DiTerlizzi, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell, D.J. Goldberg, Julie Kane-Ritsch and Kat Coiro.
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