Entertainment Celebrity Royal Netflix cancels Meghan Markle’s animated series
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Netflix cancels Meghan Markle’s animated series

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Streaming giant Netflix has scrapped a much-hyped animated series produced by Meghan Markle.

Netflix confirmed on Monday it had decided to cancel development on the Duchess of Sussex’s project, Pearl, citing cutbacks amid a collapse in subscribers and share value for the streaming service.

The “family series”, created by Meghan through Archewell Productions, had been in development since July 2021. It was to focus on the story of a 12-year-old girl exploring famous women in history, before it was canned.

The cancellation was only Netflix’s latest change in a series of cost-saving moves after losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022.

Deadline first reported the cancellation, calling it an “undesirable royal flush”, but added: “It is worth noting that the project was still in the development stage, and … [the duchess] has spent enough time in Hollywood as an actress to have heard the word ‘no’ in the past”.

Announcing the launch last July, Meghan said of the project: “Like many girls her age, our heroine Pearl is on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to overcome life’s daily challenges.”

“I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history.”

The series was to be produced by Sir Elton John’s husband, David Furnish.

Neither the duchess nor Netflix has immediately commented on the axing.

The company confirmed the cancellation of Pearl as part of strategic decisions to CNBC on Monday.

US media reported two other animated series would be dropped, while Netflix has also cut staff after its shares lost more than 35 per cent of their value in April.

Meghan and husband Prince Harry signed a multiyear $135-million deal with Netflix in September 2020, to create scripted series, docu-series, documentaries, features and children’s programming for the platform.

So far, they are yet to complete any projects.

Other Archewell projects with Netflix – including Prince Harry’s documentary series Heart of Invictus – are not believed to be affected. A Netflix crew followed the Sussexes during their recent visit to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games.

The couple also have a $36 million deal with Spotify. It was signed in late 2020, but it has so far resulted in only a single one-off episode — a holiday special in December 2020.

Late last year, Britain’s Sun newspaper reported that Spotify had given Archewell Audio a “gentle nudge” to get working. Since then, a spokesman for the couple has promised their “ground-breaking first podcast series” will launch in the US summer.