The behind-the-scenes stories that led to Jupiter's Legacy getting canceled so soon after Netflix released its first season are proving to be more dramatic than the show itself. The series was Netflix's big swing at a superhero intellectual property, and it was a disastrous miss, earning a wave of negative reviews from critics. As more information about the show's demise surfaces, it seems like Jupiter's Legacy was doomed from the start.
Jupiter's Legacy launched on May 7 and is based on the comic book series written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Frank Quietly. It was the first project from Netflix's 2017 acquisition of Millar's Millarworld, and Netflix hoped Jupiter's Legacy would be the start of a universe on the scale of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show was canceled on June 2 though, following the negative scores from critics.
Observers assumed the show was canceled because no one was watching it. That's hard to tell since Netflix never releases data itself. But the streamer kept it among its Top 10 chart for weeks after it was released. Nielsen also reported Jupiter's Legacy topped its streaming chart, with 696 million minutes viewed by users during the week of May 3-9.
So if it wasn't viewership, it might have been a series of behind-the-scenes missteps. Showrunner Steven DeKnight reportedly asked Netflix for a $12 million-per-episode budget, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Netflix convinced him to accept $9 million per episode. Once filming started, DeKnight was quickly running behind and over budget, leading to him leaving halfway through production. Sang Kyu Kim was hired to replace him, and Kim then had to go back and make changes to what was already made.
Even after production wrapped, there were still problems. Jupiter's Legacy spent "an inordinate amount of 2020" in postproduction, reports THR. Louis Leterrier (Lupin, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) was hired as a consultant, but with most of the shooting already done, it was too little too late. Costs had even eclipsed what DeKnight first asked for. "Marvel shows are $15 million to $20 million per episode," a producer told THR. "If you’re going to make a big superhero show, you need at least that much."
It's not clear what the final cost of Jupiter's Legacy's eight episodes was. One Netflix insider told THR it cost $130 million, but other sources said it was about $200 million. During all this chaos with the show, Cindy Holland, the Netflix VP of original content who greenlit the show, and two other executives left Netflix. Bela Bajaria replaced Holland, so anything approved under Holland's tenure was under increased scrutiny.
After Netflix canceled Jupiter's Legacy, Millar and the streamer tried to save face by claiming the show was an introduction to a universe. The next Millarworld show, Supercrooks, was given a series order and will be put under the Jupiter's Legacy banner. The Magic Order was also revived. It is a bit confusing to see Netflix group Supercrooks with Jupiter's Legacy, which was supposedly a failure that had to be canceled within a month of its debut. Other sources for THR suggest Millarworld is lacking a singular executive producer who could guide the projects, similar to Marvel's Kevin Feige. A Netflix source said the streamer is still dedicated to adapting Millar's works.