Daredevil executive producer Steven DeKnight calls for film and TV industry unions to take action on the cancellations of already filmed projects.
Producer and director Steven DeKnight, whose credits include major titles like Daredevil Season 1 and Pacific Rim: Uprising, has called for a “crackdown” on the practice of canceling the release of movies and seasons of television that had already been filmed.
In a tweet about a recent example — the second season of 61st Street canceled by AMC after filming was complete — DeKnight called for the industry unions to get involved and put an end to the practice by imposing penalties on the networks and streamers who pull out of distributing. He cited the WGA (Writers Guild of America), the DGA (Directors Guild of America) and SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). DeKnight has been involved in collective action with the WGA before, being one of many writers to fire their agents during the WGA-ATA negotiation breakdown in 2019.
The Unfortunate Fate of Batgirl and Scoob: Holiday Haunt
Some very high-profile projects have fallen victim to this problem, with distributors backing out of ever airing or releasing them to save money by claiming tax write-offs and avoiding paying residuals to those involved in production. This includes Batgirl, which was shelved by Warner Bros. Discovery in August 2022 ahead of a planned release on HBO Max. Batgirl initially saw conflicting reports over the reason behind the cancelation, which included insiders commenting on a poor performance with test audiences and the studio’s desire to only have “blockbuster scale” features as part of the DC franchise.
News later emerged that the cancelation would provide the company with a tax write-down of the $90 million budget, while another “95% done” project canceled by Warner Bros. Discovery at the same time, animated sequel Scoob: Holiday Haunt, was worth $40 million. Holiday Haunt director Michael Kurinsky shared that being pulled like that was frustrating because it meant the movie they worked hard on can never be seen by the public. “To get that $40 million tax write-off, they cannot make money from it. So, there is no scenario where they can sell it, stream it, anything.”
The backlash to the Batgirl situation was enormous. While many lamented the lost opportunity to see the movie, commentary has largely focused on the harm done to the relationships between content creators and distributors. Batgirl actor Brendan Fraser made this argument, saying, “it doesn’t engender trust among filmmakers and the studio.”
61st Street is not the first television show to have suffered. In September, Netflix canceled its adaptation of Grendel before it could finish filming its first season, and actor Jake Johnson recently revealed that his HBO Max show Minx, which was canceled by the streamer midway through the filming of its second season, will finish the season and look for a new home.