Nintendo Canned Netflix’s Live-Action Zelda TV Show Due To Leak

Nintendo Canned Netflix’s Live-Action Zelda TV Show Due To Leak
Sad Zelda is sad. (Screenshot: Nintendo)
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In 2015 The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo and Netflix had joined forces for a live-action The Legend of Zelda TV series. What happened with that? According to comedian Adam Conover, Nintendo cancelled both the live-action Zelda and an unannounced claymation Star Fox show because someone at Netflix spilled the beans.

Nintendo likes to keep its secrets secret, be they about video games, television shows, or new hardware. So it makes sense that having the news of its proposed live-action collaboration with Netflix leaked before an official announcement would have the famously private company up in arms. In a recent interview with The Serf Times (via Video games Chronicle), Adam Conover recalls how Nintendo wound up pulling the plug on the Zelda project, along with an intriguing Star Fox collaboration involving internet comedy company CollegeHumor.

Conover told The Serf Times that at the same time Netflix was working with Nintendo on The Legend of Zelda, the game makers were also in talks with CollegeHumor to produce a stop-motion Star Fox series along the same lines as CollegeHumor’s 2011 short “The Fantastic Mr. Star Fox.” Conover says that during development of the animated series the CollegeHumor offices were even visited by Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto.

The project seemed to be proceeding nicely. Then came the Netflix leak.

“A month later, suddenly there were reports that Netflix wasn’t going to do Legend of Zelda anymore,” said Conover in the video. “I was like, ‘What happened?’ And then I heard from my boss that we weren’t going to do Star Fox anymore. I thought that was weird, so I asked him what happened and he said, ‘Oh, someone at Netflix leaked the Legend of Zelda thing. Nintendo freaked out’.”

Again, this completely tracks. Nintendo loves its secrets and a leak like that, no matter how well-intentioned it may have been, likely would have been enough to put an end to what may have been a fruitful partnership. We reached out to Nintendo, but the company declined to comment.

I know Adam Conover wasn’t directly involved with the cancellation of these projects, but we’re going to blame him anyway. That guy ruins everything.

Comments

  • That… what? That’s a terrible reason to cancel a project. What the fuck kind of valuation of merit for any creative work hinges on its existence being a surprise? Especially such that the absence of surprise means the project can’t go ahead? Like… the War of The Worlds radio play? That’s about it. Talk about an overreaction.

    • It probably has to do with contract breach and a loss of trust. Netflix would have signed a contract to say they won’t talk about the project until an agreed date but the leak broke that contract.

      I’ve been working under NDAs and similar for close to 2 decades, and there are plenty of reasons to keep a project like that secret. For example they don’t want to announce anything until they are happy with the quality because it could be canned early if it’s not up to standard, and they don’t want to announce something only to can it soon after. Publicly announcing stuff like this gets the investors and stakeholders interested, it gets the stock market interested, it gets advertisers interested. There’s a lot of politics surrounding this kind of thing, it’s not a black and white situation. From the outside we can say “why does it matter?” but internally, there are plenty of reasons why it matters.

    • The fan boy in me says it’s because it’s what Nintendo doesn’t release that makes Nintendo great, so they always want to keep the pre-announcement cancellation window open as long as possible. The realist in me says it’s because Nintendo are impossible to work with freaks who, in spite of their recent massive leaks, still look down on a company that can’t keep every tiny secret air tight.

  • I agree with White_Pointer.

    Firstly, its not a great start to a relationship if so soon one party breaches the agreement. Lots of companies want to control the announcement of their product to make sure it generates not just suffiicent buzz but the right buzz.

    Secondly, announcing a project too early adds all sorts of pressure on the company to provide updates and information. Many of these shows never get made, but now fans are upset a show is cancelled (which had a very strong possibility of being cancelled later in development) who would not have been upset if it had ever been announced. It may also increase interest in someone leaking unfinished version of the show, or unapproved scripts and the like.

    So I do agree it is stupid, as the entire idea was not ruined by the leak, but the commercial relationship was. It’s the problem with the hollywood business, they cant keep any secrets, they love leaking projects.

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