Amazon is not moving forward on its series about conquistador Hernan Cortes after the show was forced to shut down production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Variety has confirmed.
The Spanish-language series, which starred Javier Bardem as Cortes, was intended to be a big-budget miniseries for the streamer comprised of four episodes. However, production barely got started before the pandemic forced it to stop.
Steven Zaillian wrote the series, with Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank executive producing via Amblin Television. Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna were also executive producers. Along with Bardem, the show starred Tenoch Huerta as Moctezuma and Yoshira Escarrega.
“Due to the production constraints created by the COVID-19 global pandemic, Amazon Studios and Amblin Partners are unable to move forward with production on our Cortés y Moctezuma series,” Amazon and Amblin said in a statement. “In the current climate, there is unfortunately no way to remount the production in the near future to achieve the scale and scope that was intended and that the series deserves. We have nothing but admiration and respect for Javier, Tenoch, Yoshira, Gael, Diego, Steve Zaillian, and the entire cast and crew of the series and hope we can work together again in the future.”
The pandemic was not the only issue the show was facing. Series co-director Ciro Guerra was recently accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, who claimed the director harassed and in one case assaulted them between 2013 and 2019.
“Cortes y Moctezuma” would have dealt with how Cortes defied Spanish authorities in the 16th cenutry to lead an expedition to what is now Mexico that led to the fall of the Aztec Empire.
This had been a passion project of Spielberg’s for years and was originally intended to be a feature. It was based on an unproduced screenplay by the late Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It was originally ordered at Amazon in 2018 as part of the streamer’s pivot toward big-budget event series.
“Cortes y Moctezuma” is the latest show to fall victim to COVID-19. Netflix recently pulled the plug on both “The Society” and “I’m Not Okay With This” due to budgetary issues surrounding increased health and safety costs. Both shows had been renewed for second seasons. The truTV series “I’m Sorry” was also canceled despite being renewed for a third season for the same reason.
Deadline first reported the series not going forward.