Disney+ doesn’t launch until November, but the streaming service has already axed its first program– ‘Book of Enchantment’, which was being developed by Michael Seitzman who wrote the pilot script and series bible and was acting as showrunner, based on the novels by Serena Valentino. Valentino’s books featured stories told from the perspective of Disney’s most famous villains, including the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Ursula, and more. It seems the “poor unfortunate souls” were a little too dark for the upcoming all-ages Disney+ service.
The series had not begun filming– that was supposed to begin on May 2020, in England– but was in active pre-production, with budget discussions progressing, and filming locations having been scouted. The writers’ room had been working for 13 weeks. Reportedly some expensive pay-or-play deals had already been made, and $4 million had already been spent on the project.
Even though we’re dealing with villains here, they are still strongly connected to beloved movies that have a very young fan base. As scripts started to be turned in, it seems ‘Book of Enchantment’ was determined to be heading in too dark a direction. Reportedly, producer Jason Reed was brought in in early July in an effort to take the show in a lighter direction, but after a script was submitted this week, it became clear that the show was still too dark for Disney+. Remember, Disney has been very up-front about the fact that Disney+ is all-ages.
The budget was also a factor. Reportedly its budget was close to nine figures, but considering how expensive it was going to cost, it was determined that it would be best to shut it down, considering how skittish the service was over the scripts.
In the spring, Disney moved the series ‘High Fidelity’ starring Zoë Kravitz to Hulu, and replaced the showrunner of ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ after both shows started to move in more mature directions.
This begs the question of what fans should expect from the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel shows. If a show about Disney fairy tale villains was too dark (not to mention, ‘High School Musical’!), what about the properties that are already geared toward an older audience? Makes you wonder…
Disney still owns the rights to Valentino’s books, and it is possible Disney+ will try again to develop this into a series with a different creative team.
Would you have liked to have seen a series starring the Disney villains?