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The great cancellation: why megabucks TV shows are vanishing without a trace

To save money, streaming services are axing finished shows without bothering to air them and deleting classics. What next? Game of Thrones? Succession? It doesn’t bear thinking about

Two years ago, Nautilus was big news. A vast, expensive Disney+ prequel to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nautilus promised to tell the early story of Captain Nemo as he embarked on an epic submarine adventure, seeking revenge on his former captors the East India Company. A colossal replica submarine was built. Several soundstages on Australia’s Gold Coast were given over to it. Hundreds of crew members were hired alongside hundreds of extras. Filming took almost a year. The Queensland government claimed that the series would inject A$96m into the local economy. It looked certain to be a hit; an exciting new big-budget spectacle, underpinned with contemporary themes, based on a legendary piece of intellectual property. Nautilus couldn’t go wrong.

Except nobody is going to see Nautilus because, even though it has already been made, Disney+ has decided not to stream it. Clearly, this is unusual. The television industry has a long history of dropping previously announced shows for a variety of reasons – 2004’s animated Popetown was canned by the BBC after complaints from Catholics, 2017’s The Cops was axed after reports of creator Louis CK’s ****** misconduct came to light, and 2021’s Ultimate Slip ’N Slide was cancelled after the crew all came down with a highly infectious variant of explosive diarrhoea that can be spread through tainted water. But Disney+ has a different reason for getting rid of Nautilus: it was axed as a cost-cutting exercise.

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