Netflix Axes More Animated Projects, Including Ava DuVernay's Wings Of Fire And Antiracist Baby

It's a day that ends in -y in 2022, which means it's a day that brings more breaking news from Netflix headquarters. The streaming giant has just scrapped four animation projects that had already been in development, three of which had been publicly announced (per Variety). This news comes just hours after reports emerged that around 150 staffers have been impacted by a new round of layoffs at Netflix.

The discarded projects include a film adaptation of the Adam Kline book "With Kind Regards from Kindergarten," Ava DuVernay's take on Tui Sutherland's "Wings of Fire" fantasy series, and two projects from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi meant to teach kids about racism. Kendi's projects, "Antiracist Baby" and "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You," are also based on books, with the latter co-authored by Jason Reynolds. A third project based on the author's works, "Stamped From the Beginning," is reportedly in post-production and will continue as planned.

Troubling trends at Netflix animation

This news is troubling for several reasons, first and foremost being the potential loss of great works from Black writers and filmmakers. Kendi's works are invaluable: they shine a light on the racial inequity and anti-Black legacy of American history through multiple, age-appropriate lenses. As normal classroom conversations become a source of political discourse and book banning becomes frighteningly popular again, "Stamped" and "Antiracist Baby" are frequently mentioned in conversations about teaching kids about racism. In fact, "Stamped" was the second-most challenged book in the U.S. in 2020, according to the American Library Association.

Roger Ross Williams was set to direct both "Stamped" book adaptations, and the more adult-oriented "Stamped From the Beginning," a mix of scripted and documentary storytelling, will still apparently appear on the streamer. Though this news broke in the midst of a period of unprecedented financial upheaval for the streamer, Variety cites sources claiming that "the decisions not to move forward with these projects were creative rather than cost related."

That may be the case, but these cancellations aren't the first Netflix has ordered in the wake of its recent financial woes. Just weeks ago, the streamer canceled other animated projects in development, including a long-anticipated adaptation of Jeff Smith's "Bone" comics and Lauren Faust's "Toil & Trouble." It's normal for networks and streamers to cancel shows, but rare to see several projects ended at once before they ever come to fruition.

Since most of the nixed projects are adaptations of books rather than original concepts created for Netflix, hopefully, some of them will be able to find new homes.