Why would a nearly completed movie be scrapped before anyone outside of the studio has seen it? The reason, according to Hollywood executives, is for tax deductions. In the past year and a half, Warner Bros has cancelled a live-action Looney Tunes film called Coyote vs Acme, an animated Scooby-Doo adventure titled Scoob! Holiday Haunt, and, most notably, the $90 million DC Extended Universe movie Batgirl. Now it appears that Netflix is following suit with the recent announcement that the sci-fi film The Mothership, starring Halle Berry, is also being cancelled before critics have had a chance to review it. Could this decision also be attributed to the manipulative actions of accountants?
It’s probably fair to say that a cheesy-sounding Scooby Doo episode and a movie that would have starred John Cena as a lawyer going up against Wile E Coyote probably don’t count as monumental totems of 21st-century cinema that have now been lost for ever in the cruel mists of time. Still, a lot of people quite liked the idea of Batgirl, and ultimately felt cheated that the people who ponied up the money to get this thing made decided it was too risky to actually release.
Why is Netflix constantly making headlines? The popular streaming service has been making bold moves since it emerged from the decline of the home video era. They have struck deals that traditional studios would never consider, such as the four-movie deal with Adam Sandler and acquiring the rights to the entire Roald Dahl back catalogue. They even attempted to collaborate with Harry and Meghan, albeit unsuccessfully. It’s no surprise then that it went under the radar when it was announced that Netflix had a content deal with Halle Berry to release multiple films, starting with her directorial debut Bruised after its premiere at the Toronto film festival in 2020.
The release of Berry’s film, The Union, featuring Mark Wahlberg as a construction worker who becomes involved in espionage through his ex-girlfriend from high school, has yet to occur. However, if The Mothership has met a similar fate as its less-than-successful predecessors, the movie may only exist as a mention in financial records.
For fans of science fiction, this is a concerning development. Out of every 20 superhero movies, there is only one attempt at a thought-provoking exploration of the future. And out of every 10 of these films, only a couple are actually well-made. It’s unlikely that The Mothership, which follows a single mother who finds an extraterrestrial object on her farm connected to her husband’s disappearance, would have been as successful as 2024’s I Am Mother or Ex Machina. But the possibility will now linger, like a small cultural bomb spinning endlessly in the echo chamber of despair.
According to the InSneider newsletter, executives at Netflix were unable to comprehend the fact that Berry’s movie required reshoots, particularly due to the fact that the child actors had grown in the three years since the film was initially completed in 2021. This lack of foresight seems like a major oversight for a movie with a presumably large budget. Disregarding the project altogether appears to be a significant loss.
Netflix used to be recognized as a streaming platform that rescued beloved shows that had been cancelled by US networks and no longer had a home. They would give these shows a new chance at success. They are also known for being the home of Black Mirror, a highly acclaimed sci-fi anthology series of recent years. One would expect them to have higher standards than this.