Netflix live action film “COWBOY BEBOP” canceled after one season


Netflix has decided not to press ahead with a planned second season for its live-action adaptation of classic anime series Cowboy Bebop.

The first season of the show aired last month on the streamer and attracted broadly favourable but far from gushing reviews. The show also notably failed to dent the streamer’s top streaming shows in the week of release, with a huge drop-off from its modest debut on 19 November.

The show also faired badly compared to its competition: Amazon’s Wheel of Time series debuted the same day and did sterling numbers, despite Amazon Prime Video having a significantly smaller pool of regular viewers compared to Netflix. Cowboy Bebop struggled to make much inroads in terms of social media discussion and debate for the week in question, in comparison.

Cowboy Bebop also may have suffered from severe cost overruns. The already-expensive show saw a big cost bump when lead actor John Cho broke his ankle on-set, requiring shooting to be suspended for months. Just before shooting was due to resume, the COVID pandemic shut things down again. When shooting did resume, the show, like most Netflix projects, had to put in place COVID safety precautions which may have added as much as $1 million per episode to the cost of production (such cost spikes killed another Netflix show, GLOW, after shooting had begun on its fourth season).

As I said in my review, the first season of Cowboy Bebop struggled to match the anime’s superior pacing and mastery of tonal variation, and in particular suffered from a miscast and poorly-characterised main villain. However, the show was colourful and entertaining with a unique visual style, and easily stood out as the best anime-to-live-action project to date. It’s a shame we won’t get to see how a second season could have improved on the first, but if the project brought more viewers to the classic anime original, then it’s work here is indeed done.

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