Disney+’s Book of Enchantment series has sadly been defeated. The high-profile original series that was set to adapt the Villains book series by Serena Valentino has been scrapped by Disney+, 13 weeks after its writers room had begun working on scripts. Book of Enchantment, which would have centered around Disney’s most iconic villains, had been in development for nearly a year.
Deadline broke the news that Disney+ has pulled the plug on Book of Enchantment, its buzzy original series centering on some of the most popular villains of the Disney animated oeuvre. According to Deadline, the decision was “largely creative, related to show’s tone and direction” and was made this week, after the writer’s room had already been working on scripts for 13 weeks.
While not formally greenlit, Book of Enchantment had been in the works at Disney+ for almost a year, with budget conversations, location scouting, and staffing deals already being made, and a May 2020 production start in the U.K. being eyed. However, Deadline notes that the series was under a great deal of scrutiny because of its IP involving characters held in very high esteem in the Disney canon. Once backup scripts started coming in, “executives at the streaming platform felt the series was going into a darker direction than anticipated,” the outlet writes.
Book of Enchantment was envisioned as an “epic universe that weaves classic Disney tales told in a new way,” and was inspired by Valentino’s Villains series, which gave a fresh spin on well-known villains like Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, the Evil Queen from Snow White, and more. “Evil is made, not born,” reads the Villain’s tantalizing tagline, promising more backstory and retellings of the classic Disney villains. Michael Seitzman wrote the pilot script for Book of Enchantment, and was set to serve as showrunner under ABC Signature Studios, and Seitzman and Christina Davis’ ABC Studios-based Maniac Productions. Per Deadline’s report, Seitzman’s vision for the series was a good deal darker than what Disney executives expected, and despite attempts to lighten up the tone with new scripts and producer Jason Reed brought in, the decision was ultimately made to scrap the series so as to not further compromise Seitzman’s creation.
It seems like Disney is getting more protective of its IP as it grows in size, which could be somewhat cause for concern, when even a family-friendly series like this gets scrapped at the hint of darkness (it’s about villains!). But Disney+ is looking to be a streaming service that won’t push boundaries too far with its original content.
Disney+ is set to launch on November 12, 2019.
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