Netflix feels the pain of password sharing. Plus, Idris Elba will star in and executive produce a seven-part Apple TV+ thriller, Kevin Bacon joins Sam Esmail’s Netflix movie, new trailers, and more of the biggest news in TV and streaming from the past week.
(Photo by Netflix)
Netflix, long sitting atop the streaming world with popular titles like Stranger Things and The Witcher, had a rough week: first, the company reported its first subscriber loss in more than a decade, dropping 200,00 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, followed by a 35 percent stock price drop.
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix put part of the blame for its falling numbers on people sharing their passwords for the service with non-paying viewers, but tried to put a positive spin on the situation.
“This is a big opportunity, as these households are already watching Netflix and enjoying our service,” the letter read. “Sharing likely helped fuel our growth by getting more people using and enjoying Netflix. And we’ve always tried to make sharing within a member’s household easy, with features like profiles and multiple streams. While these have been very popular, they’ve created confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared with other households.”
But, Netflix continued in the letter, the free rides — the company estimates more than 30 million accounts are sharing their passwords in the U.S. and Canada — aren’t going to continue indefinitely. One solution currently being tested in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru is paid sharing plans.
“There’s a broad range of engagement when it comes to sharing households from high to occasional viewing,” the company said in the letter. “So while we won’t be able to monetize all of it right now, we believe it’s a large short- to mid-term opportunity.”
In the meantime, the company expects to lose another 2 million subscribers in the second quarter. Ouch.
Netflix COO Greg Peters said on an earnings call that Netflix will try a “balanced approach … that supports putting our members in charge,” in terms of moving forward with managing the password-sharing dilemma.
“It’ll take a while to work this out and get that balance right,” Peters said. “My belief is that we will go through a year or so of iterating, and then deploying that.”
In other Netflix-related news this week:
The Staircase is the limited scripted series version of the popular docuseries about the murder trials of author Michael Peterson, who was accused of killing his wife, Kathleen. Stars Colin Firth and Toni Collette as the Petersons, as well as Parker Posey, Sophie Turner, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Premieres May 5. (HBO Max)
More trailers and teasers released this week:
• Dark Winds is a psychological thriller, based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series from author Tony Hillerman. The six-episode series, starring Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon as the titular Navajo police officers, co-starring with Noah Emmerich and Rainn Wilson. The series’ executive producers include Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin. Premieres June 12. (AMC)
• Meltdown: Three Mile Island is a four-part docuseries that unspools the story of the worst nuclear event in U.S. history, which took place on Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pennsylvania, in 1979. Premieres May 4. (Netflix)
• Angelyne is a limited series about fame, identity, survival, billboards, Corvettes, lingerie, men, women, women teasing men, men obsessed with women, West Hollywood, crystals, UFOs, and most importantly of all, the self-proclaimed Rorschach test in pink, glow-in-the-dark queen of the universe Angelyne. Stars Emmy Rossum, Martin Freeman, Alex Karpovsky, Hamish Linklater, and Michael Angarano. Premieres May 19. (Peacock)
• Night Sky is the sci-fi drama series, spanning space and time, following Irene (Sissy Spacek) and Franklin York (J.K. Simmons), a couple who, years ago, discovered a secret chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. Premieres May 20. (Amazon Video)
• Prehistoric Planet is Apple TV+’s new natural history event narrated by Sir David Attenborough, with a score by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer, and a new look, with new technologies, at the worlds of dinosaurs, including the introduction of two new species. Executive producers include Jon Favreau and Mike Gunton. Premieres May 23. (Apple TV+)
• The Time Traveler’s Wife is a new adaptation by Steven Moffat of Audrey Niffenegger’s beloved love story novel, starring Theo James and Rose Leslie. Premieres May 15. (HBO)
• Clark is the true-story Swedish series about criminal Clark Olofsson, whose exploits inspired the creation of the phrase “Stockholm syndrome.” Stars Bill Skarsgård. Premieres May 5. (Netflix)
• Becoming Elizabeth stars Alicia von Rittberg in this telling of the early life of Queen Elizabeth I. Premieres June 12. (Starz)
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(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Kevin Bacon has joined the cast of the Netflix movie Leave the World Behind, a Sam Esmail adaptation of author Rumaan Alam’s National Book Award finalist novel of the same name. Esmail, the Mr. Robot creator, will write and direct the film. Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, and Myha’la Herrold will also star in the story, about a family vacationing on Long Island when the owners of their rental home arrive with news of a major blackout in the city. With no access to news or phones, the crisis grows and the two families confront major issues and their place in the emergency of the collapsing world. (The Wrap)
The Wheel of Time has added Ayoola Smart (Killing Eve) for the season 2 recurring role of ‘Aviendha.’ Showrunner Rafe Judkins announced the addition to the Prime Video series’ cast during a virtual panel for the series at JordanCon 2022.
Ione Skye will guest star on Beef, the upcoming Steven Yeun and Ali Wong Netflix dramedy. The 10-episode series, about the aftermath of a road rage incident, will see Skye portraying a “mysterious woman whose mere presence haunts one of the lead characters,” Variety reports.
Andrew McCarthy will guest star as a brilliant, charming, but narcissistic pediatric surgeon on Fox’s The Resident. (Deadline)
Netflix has added new cast members to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s still-untitled spy adventure series (his first TV project), with the action star playing Luke, a father who finds out he and his daughter Emma have been secretly working as CIA spies for years. Monica Barbaro is already cast as his daughter, and they’ll be joined by Jay Baruchel as a kindergarten teacher who doesn’t know his girlfriend Emma is a CIA op; Aparna Brielle as a very capable NSA analyst on loan to the CIA; Andy Buckley as Luke’s romantic rival; Fortune Feimster as a CIA officer who looks to Luke as a father figure; and Fabiana Udenio as Luke’s ex-wife and Emma’s mom. Also starring: Milan Carter, Barbra Eve Harris, Gabriel Luna, Travis Van Winkle, Devon Bostick, David Chinchilla, Stephanie Sy, and Scott Thompson.
Netflix is launching a mobile game and an animated series based on the card game Exploding Kittens, about God and the Devil battling out on earth when they take the form of house cats. The series, from King of the Hill co-creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, will star Lucy Liu and Tom Ellis, as well as the voices of Mark Proksch, Sasheer Zamata, Abraham Lim, and Ally Maki.
Kerry Washington has joined The Simpsons as the voice of Rayshelle Peyton, Bart Simpson’s new fourth grade teacher. (EW)
No reason has been given, but Lionsgate announced F. Murray Abraham will not return for season 3 of Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day’s Apple TV+ comedy Mythic Quest. (Vanity Fair)
Reid Scott will return to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a series regular for the show’s fifth and final season. He will continue his role as talk show host Gordon Ford. (Deadline)
Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie has joined the cast of the Apple TV+ comedy series Shrinking, starring Harrison Ford and created by Jason Segel, Bill Lawrence, and Brett Goldstein. Urie will play the best friend of Jimmy (Segel), a grieving therapist who decides to start telling his clients exactly what he thinks. (Deadline)
Mad Men alum John Slattery will join the Season 6 cast of Paramount+’s The Good Fight, playing a physician who helps Diane (Christine Baranski) through a difficult time. (THR)
Benjamin Bratt is the latest cast member to join Rian Johnson’s highly-anticipated Peacock drama Poker Face. Bratt will star alongside the previously announced Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natasha Lyonne, Stephanie Hsu, and David Castañeda. (Variety)
Freeform has announced the all-new cast for the second season of Cruel Summer, with a fresh mystery set to premiere later this year. Produced by Jessica Biel, the series became the most popular in the network’s history in its first season. Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, the next chapter follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, season 2 twists and turns as it tracks love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact the triangle’s lives going forward. The cast: Sadie Stanley as Megan, Eloise Payet as Isabella, and Griffin Gluck as Luke, the love triangle at the center of the season; and KaDee Strickland as Megan’s mom, Paul Adelstein as Luke’s dad, Sean Blakemore as the town sheriff, and Lisa Yamada as a local doctor.
Netflix has announced the cast for My Father’s Dragon, the animated movie inspired by the Newberry-winning book of the same name from author Ruth Stiles Gannett. The movie tells the story of Elmer, a boy who struggles after moving to the city with his mom, and runs away to find Wild Island and a young dragon who is waiting to be rescued. The cast: Jacob Tremblay, Gaten Matarazzo, Golshifteh Farahani, Dianne Wiest, Rita Moreno, Chris O’Dowd, Judy Greer, Alan Cumming, Yara Shahidi, Jackie Earle Haley, Mary Kay Place, Leighton Meester, Spence Moore II, Adam Brody, Charlyne Yi, Maggie Lincoln, Jack Smith with Whoopi Goldberg, and Ian McShane.
(Photo by Alex Piper/courtesy Apple TV+)
Idris Elba will star in and executive produce Hijack, a seven-part Apple TV+ thriller, told in real time, with Elba playing a business negotiator who’s trying to save a hijacked plane that’s making a seven-hour flight to London. The series will be the first from the actor’s Green Door Pictures first-look deal with Apple TV+.
Showtime ordered the limited series Fellow Travelers, starring and executive produced by Matt Bomer. Adapted from author Thomas Mallon’s book of the same name, and adapted by Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia), the story is an epic love story and political thriller, chronicling the volatile romance of two very different men who meet in the shadow of McCarthy-era Washington. Bomer is charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who maintains a financially rewarding, behind-the scenes career in politics. He meets Tim Laughlin, and they begin a romance just as Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn declare war on “subversives and sexual deviants.” Across four decades, Hawk and Tim cross paths through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves.
The TV offerings at the June 8-19 Tribeca Festival in New York City will include a screening of the midseason premiere of the final season of Better Call Saul, with a chat afterwards with star Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn and co-creator and showrunner Peter Gould.
Peacock has ordered a second chapter of Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, a limited series spin-off of the NBC daytime soap classic. This storyline revolves around the return of supercouple Bo and Hope, with original Bo and Hope portrayers Kristian Alfonso and Peter Reckell. The five-episode chapter will also feature DOOL stars Deidre Hall as Dr. Marlena Evans, Drake Hogestyn as John Black, Stephen Nichols as Steve “Patch” Johnson, and Mary Beth Evans as Kayla Brady Johnson.
Peacock is also developing the comedy Cheeky, based on author Ariella Elovic’s book of the same name, from Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant and Lorne Michaels. The animated series will wring humor out of various body parts and bodily function-related issues, from “boobs” to body hair, all related by celebs, comedians, bus driver, kids, and “your grandmother’s crankiest friend.” (Deadline)
Amazon is in negotiations to pick up the live-action movie adaptation of cult fave ’80s anime Voltron, from Red Notice director and writer Rawson Marshall Thurber. Thurber co-wrote the movie script and will also direct the film. (Deadline)
The fourth installation of the Genius series from National Geographic will be titled MLK/X, and will focus on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The franchise, which is featuring two iconic geniuses for the first time, will stream on Disney+, from executive producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and showrunners and Eps Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon.
HBO Max is premiering the four-part docuseries Menudo: Forever Young, about the rise and fall of Latin American boy band Menudo, the group responsible for launching the career of Ricky Martin. Launching on June 23, the series will recall the group’s huge success – selling out Madison Square Garden several times – and its fall after accusations of abuse and exploitation by the group’s manager.
AMC has given the greenlight to Bob Odenkirk’s previously announced post-Better Call Saul series Straight Man, a one-hour dramedy about the mid-life crisis of William Henry Devereaux, Jr. (Odenkirk), the unlikely chairman of the English department in a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. The series is based on the book of the same name from Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo, who will serve as an executive producer along with Odenkirk, Naomi Odenkirk, Mark Johnson, and Peter Farrelly, who will also direct.
Popular former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes is suing Bravo, NBCUniversal, the series production companies, and Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen for fostering and tolerating “a corporate and workplace culture in which racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged.” Leakes, who was fired from RHOA in 2020, is charging that she and her fellow Black co-stars, were subjected to years of racist verbal abuse from white co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann. When she complained to series executives, they did nothing, she says, and did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann. (THR) Note: Rotten Tomatoes is a division of NBCUniversal.
Fan favorite Succession Emmy-nominated Nicholas Braun is teaming with Spider-Man: Far from Home producer Chris Buongiorno to develop One for the Road, a series for HBO about a band that is trying to survive the “rapidly changing landscape of independent music in the early 2000s.” (Variety)
CNN+, the streaming news network that launched on March 29, will shut down on April 30. New CNN boss Chris Licht wrote in a memo to employees, “While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN. It allows us to refocus resources on the core products that drive our singular focus: further enhancing CNN’s journalism and its reputation as a global news leader.” Customers will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.