It has become a growing trend in the entertainment industry to cancel completed television shows as a cost-saving measure so networks can take advantage of tax write-offs. It’s a strategy Warner Bros. Discovery employed by doing away with reality competition The big D and the second season of Chad and more recently, AMC Networks has been dealing with the termination of Demascus, Invitation to a campfireand the second season of 61st streett and Pantheon, the latter two almost completing work on their second season. Netflix also recently canceled the second season of the animated series Inside Job, and while this trend is becoming more common, at least one showrunner is speaking out about the practice. Carina Adly MacKenzie, creator of The CW’s Roswell, New Mexicoaddressed the matter in a recent Twitter thread, calling it a “direct betrayal of promises made” (via meeting).
“This ‘trend of killing completed projects for corporate tax breaks’ is not only sad, it is a direct betrayal of promises made when deals are signed,” MacKenzie wrote. “We’re going to have to start needing language in our contracts, or maybe penalties to delay that – but that’s going to be very difficult.”
I’ve seen a series of “It IS fair for a network to just decide not to air a completed TV season because everyone who worked on it got paid anyway,” so I wanted to talk about some of the nuances of that.
— Carina Adly Mackenzie (@cadlymack) January 8, 2023
In her lengthy thread, MacKenzie explains that while the practice is legal and has been going on for decades, it used to be fairly rare — and that typically “a network used to burn finished episodes on Saturday nights, but they aired them anyway.” She also explained the process a bit, explaining how studios and streamers are so involved in the project that it’s not necessarily about whether a show is “good” or not.
“You’re doing your job, holding up your end of the deal as they ask you to,” she added. “Then they decide they don’t want to do their part of the job – for a tax break. And suddenly you’re getting paid, but you’re NOT getting the support you were promised under the deal.”
MacKenzie also wrote that while the Writer’s Guild will address the issues, it’s just another thing the WGA will have on its list – noting that “we never win them all”.
While MacKenzie’s thread addressed television specifically, it’s not just television that has canceled completed or nearly completed projects for tax reasons in recent months. Warner Bros. Discovery has mostly shelved this bat girl film as well as an animated sequel to it Schoob! While those projects will likely never see the light of day, there could be some hope at least regarding some of the canceled television projects. Some of the showrunners for the various canceled series have expressed hope that their shows will end up being sold to other networks.
What do you think of MacKenzie’s comments? Let us know your thoughts in our comments section!