As reported by Deadline Thursday, the cancellation was an abrupt one but was reached mutually by Disney+ and sister studio ABC Signature. Stemming from creative issues over the show’s “tone and direction,” Book of Enchantment stirred executives who felt the series was “going into a darker direction than anticipated.”
Though the series wasn’t formally greenlighted, Deadline notes budget conversations were progressing and a location scout was underway ahead of a potential May 2020 production start in the UK. After nearly a year’s worth of development on Book of Enchantment, its writers room was 13 weeks into work on scripts when the plug was pulled.
Michael Seitzman (Code Black, Quantico) was on board as showrunner and penned the series’ pilot script.
An adaptation of the Villains book series by Serena Valentino, Deadline speculates Book of Enchantment faced stronger scrutiny because of its usage of some of Disney’s most iconic characters. Valentino’s book series highlighted stories centered on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Wicked Queen, Beauty and the Beast’s titular Beast, The Little Mermaid’s sea witch Ursula, Tangled’s Mother Gothel and Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent, widely considered the company’s flagship villainess.
Deadline also reports a “mid-stream creative direction shift,” which would have injected some “levity” into its dark tone. Producer Jason Reed (2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Disney’s coming live-action Mulan remake) was brought on board early July, but latest scripts were still deemed too dark for what executives envision for a series belonging to the family-friendly streaming service.
Also lending to the cancellation is the series’ “very high” budget projections; concessions were made and all parties were drawing close to a compromise, but the series looked to be “very expensive.” The expected cost and its skewing towards a darker-than-expected tone is likely what shut the book on Enchantment.
The report adds that, though this specific iteration won’t be moving forward, ABC Studios retains possession of the IP and Disney+ is reportedly still interested in the property, making it possible for a new spin on the material in the future.1comments
Book of Enchantment would have been Disney’s latest Disney Villains-centric project: the popular cadre of characters — which typically includes Aladdin’s Jafar, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, Hercules’ Hades and 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella de Vil — headlined the Disney Villains After Hours event over the summer at the Walt Disney World Resort, and Disney found success inspired by the Villains brand in the Maleficent franchise and Disney Channel’s Descendants franchise.
Disney+ launches November 12.