Brit Marling Says ‘The OA’ Cancellation Was a Harbinger of a “Broken Business Model”

Co-creator Brit Marling says the cancellation of The OA was a harbinger of a “broken business model.” She shared her thoughts on how the industry has been disrupted over the last decade while speaking to The New York Times for a story about The OA creators’ new series at FX, Murder at the End of the World.

Netflix’s former vp original content Cindy Holland, who worked at the streamer for nearly two decades and oversaw its move into in-house content production, had praise for creative duo Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. Their two-season Netflix show centered on the inexplicable reappearance of a blind woman, Prairie Johnson (Marling), after she went missing seven years earlier and has now returned in her late 20s with her sight. The show was canceled in 2019, garnering a passionate fan response to save the show, including one fan who went on a hunger strike.

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“It had scope and ambition and was, by design, not the lowest-budget project around,” Holland said of the show and its cancellation. “It became clear that it was going to be unsustainable as an ongoing project in that form at Netflix at the time, and it was a fairly sad experience for all of us, including the audience.”

But the current CEO of Sister, the production company launched by Chernobyl producer Jane Featherstone and media mogul Elisabeth Murdoch, says that the cancellation was more than the typical decision to end a series.

The OA‘s cancellation for Marling was a sign of things to come across the industry after the pandemic accelerated studios’ pivot to streaming, and in some cases, altered their strategies.

“The space had been disrupted, a bunch of creativity and market energy had rushed into that space,” she continued. “But now it was going to calcify or solidify into something that in many ways was a broken business model and much worse than what had been before.”

Since 2019, a global pandemic, two monthslong strikes, a major merger and more have helped reshape Hollywood, resulting in costing cutting, restructuring and another reassessment of their strategies. Netflix, like Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney+ and more, has canceled projects and removed a number of titles from the platform for tax write-offs.

The streamer was frequently centered in the monthslong WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes over calls from both unions for changes to streaming’s residuals’ system. And after years of relying on a subscription-only model, Netflix has introduced — along with several of its competitors — a new, cheaper ad tier in a shift back toward the system of linear cable, in addition to recently sharing plans to reduce the number of films it releases annually, after attempting an ambitious 50 titles a year.

This story has been updated to correct quotes that were mistakenly attributed to Cindy Holland that were made by Brit Marling.

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