Now Disney Plus is canceling TV shows before they’re even released — and that’s a huge bummer for both fans and cast members. Among the 2023 cancellations are two series that were based on best-selling books. The Mysterious Benedict Society, a supernatural adventure, and National Treasure: Edge of History, which was a continuation of the film franchise, are both being shelved by the streaming service. It’s part of a larger plan by the company to save $3 billion on non-sports content, which it says is part of its efforts to stop hemorrhaging money.
These canceled Disney+ shows were popular, but they weren’t making money. And that’s the most important factor in these decisions to pull them from the platform. The cancellations are devastating to people who worked on these projects because it’s not just that they won’t be able to get a paycheck from their work, but it also means they’ll never see anyone else show their kids the show or turn it into a cult classic like Girl Meets World did for its original broadcasting run.
It’s a sign of the times when shows can be canceled before they even have a chance to find their audience, and it’s especially sad that these projects didn’t find an audience because they were so good. In the past, networks had specific time slots to fill and advertising dollars to bring in new viewers, and if a show wasn’t performing well, it would likely be pushed back a season or canceled altogether. Now, with the rise of streaming, things are different. There are no more prime time slots, no more lead-ins, and the only thing that matters is whether a show has enough “content.”
There are a lot of cancellations on this list, including The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, a spinoff of the 1992 film, and Willow, which was a prequel to Batman’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth. High Fidelity, a series starring Lenny Kravitz, has also been canceled after just one season because it started to move in a more mature direction that Disney Plus wasn’t ready for.
Other canceled shows include Stargirl, an adaptation of the DC Comics series with the same name, and Nautilus, a ten-episode show about the origins of Captain Nemo. Those are all huge blows to people who signed on to the projects and had hopes for residuals or royalties, but they’re just the beginning of what could be a massive purge by Disney on its two streaming platforms.
Earlier this year, Disney announced it was pulling a number of shows from Hulu, which it owns a majority stake in, to make room for its own lineup of original shows. This was another sign of how serious Disney is about cleaning house on its platforms, as it removed a documentary about the late Howard Ashman and several other shows that weren’t doing well enough to stay. It’s unclear what will eventually make its way to the new Disney Plus, but hopefully they learn from their mistakes and can get some of these projects back on track.