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Reed Hastings Doesn’t Want ‘The Get Down’ Cancellation to Discourage Netflix

Variety logo Variety 5/31/2017 Andrew Wallenstein
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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings played down the cancellation of the expensive scripted drama series “The Get Down,” going so far as to say he welcomed creative failure.

“You should have more things that don’t work out, you have to get more aggressive,” he said Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “The drive toward conformity as you grow is more substantial. As a leader, you want to drive people to take more risks.”

The streaming service canceled the Baz Luhrmann series last week after just one season, a rarity on a roster of dozens of shows that have earned multiple season renewals. But Hastings noted that even big bets like “Get Down” and “Marco Polo,” another big-budget drama series that was ended after two seasons, only comprise 1% of a content budget that is expected to reach $6 billion in 2017.

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, “The Get Down” is projected to have cost $120 million, making it among the most expensive series in TV history.

Hastings was also candid about Netflix’s inability to launch in China, with the company ultimately aiming to penetrate the massive market via a licensing deal in April with iQiyi. 

“We probably assessed it wrong,” Hastings said of China’s regulatory stance. “We had our natural optimism that slowly got beat down.”

He was more sanguine about Netflix’s more recent adventures at the Cannes Film Festival, where controversy engulfed the two films the streaming service had in competition because they weren’t being shown first in theaters. Hastings believes all the hubbub only generated more attention to those films, “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” and “Okja.”

“It’s been fantastic for us,” he said. “They’ll get a lot more awareness.”

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