— Netflix

It used to be that announcing a film was no guarantee it would ever be released, but in the streaming age, even finishing a movie doesn’t mean it will come to fruition. After Warner Bros. Discovery axed an already completed Batgirl for the tax write-off, no production is safe until fans are actually watching it.

Warner has made a habit of canceling completed projects: Scooby-Doo spinoff Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and the John Cena-starring Coyote vs. Acme soon followed Batgirl behind the woodshed. Thanks to the magic of Hollywood accounting, canceling these movies allows Warner to reduce its taxable income by a few million dollars, and now Netflix has followed Warner’s questionable lead.

Variety has confirmed The Mothership, an upcoming Halle Berry sci-fi movie, has been shelved after “multiple delays in post-production.” Directed by Matthew Charman, The Mothership followed a mom and her two children a year after her husband suddenly vanished. They discover a strange extraterrestrial presence under their house that seems to hold the secret to the disappearance, and go on a mission to reunite their family.

The cancellation was first reported by insider Jeff Sneider, who suggested the child actors had grown to the point where necessary reshoots were no longer possible. But as it stands, there’s no official reason for this cancellation from Netflix.

The movie had a long road to production. The Mothership was announced in 2021, and was featured in a video highlighting Netflix’s 2022 movies. If Sneider’s reasoning was correct, then even the most careful staging could make growing young actors hard to disguise years later. But even if the motivation for cancellation isn’t naked financial manipulation, it’s still a concerning sign for the state of film production. If films can be pulled for any reason, audiences and creators will have less and less faith that interesting projects will actually reach them.

Will more Netflix originals suffer the same fate? Is the struggling streamer so hard up that they need to cut their losses on major movies instead of getting them out the door? Warner Bros. may have had genuine financial concerns, but the fact the studio stood tall to the wave of criticism that followed seems to have empowered other companies to make similar anti-viewer choices. From now on, no project is a sure thing until you’re actually streaming it… and even then, there’s no telling how long that will last.

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