Netflix has canceled its planned adaptation of Stuart Turton’s prize-winning novel “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.”
The project had been on the first development slate from Netflix VP of content for the U.K., Anne Mensah, for more than two years, but sources indicate that it never made it into production.
Author Turton first revealed the U-turn by the streamer on Jan. 12 in a now-deleted tweet. “Alright pals, I come bearing bad news,” he wrote. “Netflix has canned its plans to make a telly adaptation of ‘Seven Deaths.’ Sad news, but thems the breaks. We’re looking for another home for it, but the focus at the minute is making sure it’s fucking brilliant when it does arrive.”
Netflix first announced the adaptation in December 2020 as part of a slate of seven local originals that included the Rowan Atkinson-starring comedy “Man vs Bee.” Sophie Petzal, an up-and-coming screenwriter who won acclaim for Channel 5’s “Blood,” was set to write the screenplay and executive produce alongside House Productions’ Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross.
The show’s logline describes “Seven Lives” as a “high-concept murder mystery set during a weekend party at a crumbling mansion where the narrator must repeat the same day over and over again until he can identify the killer of the beautiful young heiress, Evelyn Hardcastle, and break the cycle.”
Turton’s book, which was first published in 2018, won the Costa First Novel Award and the Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Fiction. It was also shortlisted for the British Book Awards Debut of the Year.
BBC Studios-owned House Productions were set to produce after acquiring TV rights to the book in 2018. Variety understands the company is now shopping the project to other streaming partners, and that a new deal could be in the works.
Interestingly, of the seven projects in that initial Netflix U.K. originals slate, only four were officially greenlit: Edinburgh Fringe play-turned-series “Baby Reindeer,” YA drama “Half Bad,” supernatural action-adventure drama “Lockwood & Co.” and comedy “Man vs. Bee.” However, Sally Green’s “Half Bad” novel trilogy, which was adapted by “Giri/Haji” creator Joe Barton and debuted last year under the title “The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself,” was canceled in December. The streamer hasn’t yet renewed “Man vs. Bee” for Season 2.
Meanwhile, the streamer has pulled out of the remaining three titles, which include “Seven Lives” as well as horror series “Cuckoo Song” and football comedy “The Red Zone.”
Outside of this slate, Netflix has moved ahead on other U.K. originals. Shows that were commissioned before the aforementioned shows and came to fruition include further seasons of “Top Boy,” “After Life” and “Anatomy of a Scandal,” as well as stalwarts such as “The Crown” and “Sex Education.” Other British originals that have since landed on the streamer include the wildly popular “Heartstopper” and “Stay Close.”
Nevertheless, the hit rate of that first U.K. originals slate reveals the challenging climate for original programming across SVODs — even after lengthy periods of development. Netflix is among a number of streamers that have taken an axe to their slates as the landscape for video on demand recalibrates following slowdowns in subscriber growth.
House Productions and Netflix declined to comment for this story.