Disney Plus has cancelled its Book of Enchantment series, ahead of the streaming service's launch on November 12. Developed by Michael Seitzman (Intelligence, Code Black), the show was based on Serena Valentino's Disney Villain novels and has been in the pipeline for almost a year (though it wasn't confirmed until last February). Valentino's books have been going since 2009 and explore the backstories for characters like Maleficent, the Wicked Queen, Ursula, and Mother Gothel, while also recounting parts of their fairy tales from their perspectives.
The Mouse House will showcase its Disney Plus lineup at D23 this weekend, with shows like The Mandalorian (which will be available when the streamer launches) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 series expected to take up much of the spotlight. It also has new shows based on popular IPs likes Monsters, Inc. in the pipeline, in addition to re-imaginings of its newly-acquired Fox properties like Love, Simon. However, they've pulled the plug on Book of Enchantment ahead of the expo.
According to Deadline, Disney Plus dropped Book of Enchantment over concerns about its darker tone and its costs (with season 1's budget pushing towards nine figures). Efforts were made to address both of these issues ahead of the decision, with producer Jason Reed taking more of a hands-on role with the show's development in July. The latest episode script brought in this week was still darker than Disney Plus executives had been hoping for, so the choice was ultimately made to end the production altogether.
Disney, of course, has a carefully cultivated family-friendly image as a studio, and plans to adhere to a similarly family-oriented tone with its in-house Disney Plus shows. For related reasons, the streamer's planned High Fidelity series (starring Zoë Kravitz) moved to Hulu in April, after it had evolved into a show that deals with more adult subject matter and issues. Similarly, the upcoming High School Musical: The Musical: The Series changed showrunners earlier this year, after it original overseer planned to tackle more mature themes and storylines. It varies from brand to brand, admittedly, as Bryce Dallas Howard has said The Mandalorian's directors were allowed far more creative freedom than she expected.
Because Book of Enchantment deals with popular Disney villains (which the Mouse House are highly protective of), the series was subject to more creative oversight and restrictions than Disney Plus' Star Wars and MCU series. As a result, Seitzman's vision for the show was ultimately dubbed too edgy for the studio's tastes and has now been abandoned. The timing isn't ideal (to say the least), with D23 getting underway and Disney having made headlines for the wrong reasons all week long. Nevertheless, Disney Plus has gone ahead and made the call, while also leaving the door open to revive and revisit the Book of Enchantment concept at a later date.