Is Harry's team manipulating Palace row for Netflix?
Is Harry’s Hollywood team manipulating Palace row to bank balcony ‘moneyshot’ for Netflix? Royal experts accuse Duke’s PR advisers of stirring up drama so Sussexes CAN appear at Jubilee to feed streaming giant’s real-life The Crown
- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are yet to confirm if they will attend the Platinum Jubilee in June
- A Netflix crew has been following them for days at the Invictus Games in The Hague ahead of 2022 series
- Couple have reportedly been paid $100m by the streaming giants, whose subscriber base is starting to drop
- Royal experts have said that Netflix will want the couple to be on the Buckingham Palace balcony with Queen
Netflix’s bosses will want a real-life version of The Crown from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in return for their $100million, experts claimed today.
The couple are yet to confirm if they will attend the Platinum Jubilee in June amid rumours that the Royal Family would ban the TV crew following them around at the Invictus Games in Holland over the past week.
The Invictus documentary is being made as Netflix shares fell more than 25 per cent as the company said its user base shrank for the first time in more than a decade, with total subscribers down as global lockdowns ended.
Today royal experts predicted Harry and Meghan’s provocative comments on the royals will continue to please Netflix and ‘keep the contracts coming’ for the rest of their lives, especially after Harry spilled the beans to NBC on his private 30 minute Windsor meeting with his grandmother while accompanied by his wife.
One source told The Telegraph: ‘What the visit to Windsor Castle last week demonstrates is that this was more about topping up their royal credentials – doubtless to the delight of Netflix – than checking up on Granny’.
And some claimed that what Netflix really want is the Sussexes on the Buckingham Palace balcony in June with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William – rather than the couple’s recent trips to New York and The Hague or their children tending to chickens at their Montecito mansion.
Journalist Tom Bower, who is working on a biography of Meghan Markle, told MailOnline: ‘I don’t believe the British public would tolerate Harry and Meghan on the balcony.
‘The recent speculation has been created by their Hollywood publicists to force the Palace to accept the Sussexes’ demands. It’s becoming an unseemly battle which the Palace needs to firmly squash.’ He added: ‘To enhance his credibility in America and for Netflix he needs to pretend that he has a special relationship with the Queen’.
Prince Harry hitched a ride on a golf buggy to attend a powerlifting event at the penultimate day of Invictus Games today. A Netflix crew again filmed his arrival at the stadium, having followed the Sussexes for their upcoming documentary: ‘Heart of Invictus’.
The Duke of Sussex (centre) leaving the Powerlifting event at the Invictus Games 2022, held at Zuiderpark the Hague today, again followed by a film crew
Harry and Meghan are accompanied by a film crew as they meet athletes and supporters at the Invictus Games on April 17
The ‘Heart of Invictus’ documentary is to be shown on Netflix as part of a deal with the Sussexes
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend day two of the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in The Hague – Harry was seen wearing a microphone during filming believed to be for their Netflix documentary
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today dodged an awkward question about the Duke of Sussex’s claim he came to Britain last week to ensure the Queen is ‘protected’.
As the fallout from his incendiary interview continued on Her Majesty’s 96th birthday, a broadcaster called out to William and Kate when they left the London headquarters of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) as the organisation announced its fund total for its Ukraine appeal had passed £300 million.
Harry, who met with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in The Hague today, appeared to issue a veiled warning to those closest to the Queen when interviewed by a US network, saying he wanted to make sure his grandmother was ‘protected’ and had ‘the right people around her’.
The duke did not elaborate on whether he was referring to royal aides or members of his own family, but his comments may have deepened his rift with his father the Prince of Wales and his brother William and perplexed palace officials.
Harry also risked further fuelling the rift with his estranged older brother by stating that their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was now watching over him from beyond the grave as ‘she’s done her bit’ with Prince William and his family.
As the Cambridges stepped into their car a female broadcaster shouted: ‘Sir, does the Queen need protecting?’ The duke and duchess did not respond and continued into the vehicle before being driven away.
Today’s incident echoed a moment a year ago when Prince William hit back against Harry and Meghan’s race claims in an interview with Oprah. The future king was at a primary school with his wife where he said: ‘We’re very much not a racist family’.
The Duke of Cambridge was the first royal to personally respond to the allegations that are said to have deeply upset him as well as their grandmother and father.
Royal expert Penny Junor fears there will be more bombshells to come on Netflix, who have paid the Sussexes a reported $100million.
She told The Sun: ‘When he had a conversation with his father and William after Prince Philip’s funeral that was leaked and then reported by Gayle King on CBS in America days later so I think the family should be wary of him if he comes to the Platinum Jubilee.
‘He is under contract to Netflix for a lot of money and they are going to get their money’s worth.
‘I fear he has slightly sold his soul to the devil. Any network is hungry for news and gossip about the Royal Family and the closer you can get to the real deal the better. And he is the real deal. You can’t have a situation where Netflix or any other US channel is going to be reporting private conversations. I fear no good can come of this.’
Robert Lacey, royal author, wrote in The Times today: ‘The tragic paradox of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is that they proclaim their wish to escape the royal circus, but that’s all they really want to talk about — while taking TV camera crews round the world to record them doing so.
‘So it has come to this — the defiantly ex-royal couple are actually trading in royal intimacies. It is no wonder the prince should fear he might suffer from “burnout”. Anyone would get burnt out at the prospect of having to conjure up provocative comments on the same half-dozen topics to keep the contracts coming for the rest of his life’.
Times columnist Hilary Rose wrote: ‘Netflix’s executives haven’t paid so much because they’re interested in the speech the couple gave last year in Central Park, or even the Invictus Games, which anyone can see on TV. What they’ve paid for is a real-life version of The Crown.
‘The strategy now being pursued from California appears to be for the Sussexes to get exactly the sort of hybrid half-in, half-out relationship with the royals that the Palace thought had been ruled out. The Sussex business model relies on the royals, and the royal family’s business model increasingly relies on not becoming collateral damage’.
Meanwhile, another royal expert today alleged the Sussexes could face pressure from Netflix executives to produce more royal content after the streaming service lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams has warned of possible ‘pressure from Netflix executives to get more royal content’, but he added that filming anything with other members of the Royal Family was ‘highly unlikely’.
Mr Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘When Harry and Meghan signed up to Netflix for a deal worth $100million (£77million), according to the New York Times, in September 2020, the company appeared to be riding high with a huge and expanding reach owing to the pandemic. It was undoubtedly a cachet to have two royals with a high global profile as well as produce The Crown which, though controversial, was an international hit.
‘A year and a half later they have actually produced absolutely nothing. It is true that they have announced two series – Heart of Invictus which will follow competitors to the Games, which were Harry’s creation, and which were postponed twice owing to the pandemic and Meghan’s animated series for children, Pearl, about a 12-year-old girl.
‘The dramatic news today that Netflix are now losing viewers, introducing advertisements and trying to crack down on the ‘password-sharing’ which is costing them revenue, has led to their shares crashing by 25 per cent.
‘It will undoubtedly lead to a demand for a great deal more from the Sussexes including some actual content. The original announcement promised documentaries, children’s programmes, scripted shows and feature films. It is surely time Netflix had value for money and it sounds as if they need it too.’
He added: ‘There might well be pressure from Netflix executives to get more royal content in what they produce. It is highly unlikely that it will actually involve the filming of or interviews with any members of the royal family.
‘One of the reasons that the Sussexes had to step down as senior working royals was that commercial ventures have to be separate from royal duties. They chose the road they are now on.
‘In 2016 the Queen participated in a light-hearted video with the Obamas to promote Invictus for Harry in the United States. This would not be likely to happen again and certainly not for Netflix.’
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in July 2018
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex talks to Team Netherlands during the Wheelchair Basketball on day six of the Invictus Games
Upon news that it had shed 200,000 subscribers, its shares plunged by 25%. So far this year, its shares are down about 40%
Responding to the development, Elon Musk taunted in a tweet: ‘The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable’
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: Boston-born founder with Santa Cruz mansion, ‘Olympic-sized’ swimming pool and two private jets
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings was born in Boston, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College, and after considering serving in the armed forces as a Marine, joined the Peace Corps instead. He then got a masters in computer science from Stanford University in 1988.
Before Netflix, he founded Pure Software, a software troubleshooting company in 1991. He later left the company after an acquisition to start Netflix in 1997 with colleague Marc Randolph.
Netflix, which initially offered DVD rentals by mail, grew rapidly as the internet expanded and Hastings became the unchallenged boss when Randolph left in 1999. But it was when Netflix began producing its own content that the California-based company truly became a force to be reckoned with.
Mr Hastings certainly enjoys the fruits of his labour, sharing his vast home with his wife of more than 30 years, Patty Ann Quillin, and their two adult children, musician Molly and Sean. Together, they lead a lifestyle that seems an unusual blend of high-tech luxury and pastoral charm.
It was previously reported that they own two private jets. The Santa Cruz mansion boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a 12-person Jacuzzi. A home theatre – for Netflix binges, no doubt – has cutting edge Dolby Atmos surround sound, a system more advanced than most US cinemas. And their vast garage can house 12 cars, while the driveway has space for a further 15.
And bosses at the California-based firm will be looking to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to help revitalise it after they signed a deal worth $100million in September 2020 but have not yet finished producing any content.
In April last year the couple’s Archewell Productions arm announced a documentary called Heart Of Invictus about people competing at the Games – with a camera crew following them at the event in The Hague in recent days.
And three months later in July 2021, it was revealed that Meghan is creating an animal series for children called Pearl about the adventures of a 12-year-old girl – but nothing has yet materialised of either production.
The Sussexes could join the Queen and other members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for her Platinum Jubilee – but Netflix cameras will not be allowed to film them, according to The Sun.
It comes after Netflix’s customer base fell by 200,000 subscribers during the January-March period – and it is now projecting a loss of another two million during the April-June period.
Taunting the California-based company after it posted its losses, billionaire Tesla magnate Elon Musk said: ‘The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable’.
Netflix said the Covid boom had ‘created a lot of noise’ and blamed the slowdown on the return to normality after two years of lockdowns.
It also blamed password sharing for the rise in cancelled accounts, as it estimated that about 10million households worldwide are watching its service for free by using the account of a friend or another family member.
The company has now started testing different ways of curbing password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru – and could extend this elsewhere if it proves successful. Bosses are also considering turning the service into a low-fee subscription supported by ads.
Netflix also claimed that the market had now been ‘saturated’ by rising competition from streaming services including Disney+, Apple TV, Now TV, Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount, the cost-of-living crisis gripping the US, Canada and Western Europe, and its decision to quit streaming in Russia after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
This is despite the service releasing a variety of recent hits including Squid Game, Bridgerton, Sex Education, and political drama Anatomy of a Scandal.
Are these the mega-money flops turning people off Netflix? Viewers threaten to cancel subscriptions over recent flops like Red Notice and Anatomy of a Scandal – as experts say enormous amount of content could be putting people off
Once the seemingly untouchable streaming giant in a market it helped build from the ground-up, Netflix, for the first time in its history, has shown signs of vulnerability.
The streaming behemoth has lost 200,000 subscribers in just three months, while shareholders of the US firm have been warned to expect another two million subscribers to leave in the three months to July.
Bosses say a second price-rise in a year has played a part, while the company has lost 700,000 following its decision to pull out of Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The rapid rise of rival Disney+, which has seen billions of dollars of investment in recent years, has seen competition in the streaming market increase dramatically.
And other services like Amazon Prime Video, which has captured a share of the live football market in the UK, and AppleTV+, which has seen success through football comedy Ted Lasso, have also seen people turn away from Netflix.
Meanwhile, the streaming service has also been accused of liberal excess, with outspoken Tesla billionaire Elon Musk yesterday claiming the ‘woke mind virus’ was making Netflix ‘unwatchable’.
Netflix once attracted viewers with widely-praised exclusives such as Stranger Things and controversial royal drama, The Crown, is now find itself in somewhat of a content crisis. Despite the streaming service’s issues, there have been some recent success, with dystopian Korean series Squid Game proving a huge hit, and season one of period romance series Bridgerton taking the world by storm
But perhaps its biggest problems is that a streaming service that once attracted viewers with widely-praised exclusives such as Stranger Things, House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black now finds itself in somewhat of a content crisis.
The streaming service, which is now competing with $15million-an-episode Disney+ blockbuster series The Mandalorian, appears to be pinning its hopes on its own big-money exclusives.
But several, including Red Notice – its most expensive project ever – and the newly released Anatomy of a Scandal, come under fire from critics – even if they have been well watched.
And Netflix is also facing another expensive outlay in the form of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, having shelled out for a $100million deal with the couple in September 2020.
As of yet, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are yet to produce any published content for the streaming giant. But the company will be pinning their hopes that their upcoming series documenting the recent Invictus Games will prove value for money.
Despite the streaming service’s recent issues, there have been some successes, with dystopian Korean series Squid Game proving a huge hit, and season one of period drama Bridgerton taking the world by storm.
Here MailOnline takes a look at Netflix’s recent hits, and its expensive misses:
Miss – Anatomy of a Scandal
Heavily marketed, even more heavily slammed, Anatomy of a Scandal has proved a mega miss for Netflix. A glossy six-part drama, featuring a stellar cast led by Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend, hopes had been high for the series, which details the fictional tale of an MP and a scandal with his aide.
Heavily marketed, even more heavily slammed, Anatomy of a Scandal has proved a mega miss for Netflix. A glossy six-part drama, featuring a stellar cast led by Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend, hopes had been high for the series, which details the fictional tale of an MP and a scandal with his aide
Based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Vaughan, the series follows Sophie Whitehouse, the wife of fictional British MP James Whitehouse.
She learns that her husband has been having an affair with an aide – which then explodes into a public scandal and tears apart their life.
Along with a stella cast, the series has an expensive production and comes from the creator of Big Little Lies. But it has been slammed by critics, including the Times’ critic Ben Dowell, who described it as having ‘clunky strands of dialogue’ and ‘symbolism that falls on you like a ten-tonne Acme weight falling on Wile E Coyote’.
Other critics have described it as ‘poorly executed’, ‘brutally silly’ and having ‘borderline criminal dialogue’.
MISS – Red Notice
If you follow wrestler turned actor The Rock on social media, you might be led to believe that Red Notice has been a wild success. And in terms of viewing figures, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Within 11 days, the expensive looking, A-list cast containing, heavily promoted crime comedy became the biggest film to ever grace Netflix.
The film, which features an array of exotic locations, but was mostly filmed using sets in Atlanta, Georgia, is Netflix’s most expensive investment to date at more than $250million.
Red Notice features The Rock, an Interpol agent on the trial of the world’s best – well, second best – art thief played by Ryan Reynolds – who is regularly bested by the elusive ‘Bishop’ played by Gal Gadot
It features The Rock, an Interpol agent on the trial of the world’s best – well, second best – art thief played by Ryan Reynolds – who is regularly bested by the elusive ‘Bishop’ played by Gal Gadot.
Reynolds and Gadot compete to unite the three bejeweled and expensive eggs once gifted to Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra – somehow ending up in Argentina attempting to loot a hidden Nazi hideout.
All sounds a bit silly, right? Well, that’s what the critics thought. Despite its high budget and A-list cast, and the fact it was widely watched, the film flopped with critics, with some describing the screenplay as ‘tangled’ and the characters of ‘lacking personality’.
Some viewers also weren’t impressed, with one on Twitter writing: ‘Don’t need Elon musk to tell me Netflix is becoming unwatchable, been thinking about dropping it for a while, even their big name movies are s**t. Red Notice was one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched, if I could’ve given it a 2 thumbs down, I’d have done so.’
MISS – Marco Polo
‘Hate-watching’ has become quite the phenomenon on Netflix. It is when a viewer watches something that is widely regarded as bad, just to see how bad that thing really is – and sometimes they end up enjoying it.
Take for example, Emily in Paris. Though the tongue-in-cheek series its many fans, many have claimed they have ‘hate-watched’ two seasons of the show – and it is now one of the most watched in Netflix history.
But before Emily in Paris, Marco Polo was the Netflix ‘hate-watch’ special. The series is a drama of the life of real life Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo as he journeys across Europe and Asia and lands up as a prisoner in the palace of Kublai Khan, a 13th century Mongolian emperor.
Before Emily in Paris, Marco Polo was the Netflix ‘hate-watch’ special. The series is a drama of the life of real life Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo as he journeys across Europe and Asia and lands up as a prisoner in the palace of Kublai Khan, a 13th century Mongolian emperor
At a reported $10million-a-episode, the series, which ran from 2014 to 2016 featured a big budget, and stars including Marvel actor Benedict Wong and Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy.
But it was panned by the critics, including The Atlantic’s Lenika Cruz, who said: “A big budget, high hopes, and good intentions it seems wasn’t enough to buoy a boring protagonist and flaccid story.”
Despite the panning, the audience score was an impressive 94 per cent, meaning it hit well with the fans.
MISS? – He’s Expecting
A little too early to tell – since it was only released today – but He’s Expecting has already caused a stir. The Japanese drama, based on a manga series, tells of one man’s story of being pregnant.
It stars Takumi Saitoh as Kentaro Hiyama, a 32-year-old elite salaryman who suddenly becomes pregnant. He decides to keep the baby to change people’s perspective on male pregnancy.
Originally from a manga piece – which is set in a surreal world where men are the ones to carry babies – the series isn’t quite the ‘woke’ spectacle some viewers have painted it to be.
He’s Expecting has already caused a stir. The Japanese drama, based on a manga series, tells one man’s story of being pregnant. Originally from a manga piece – which is set in a surreal world where men are the ones to carry babies – the series isn’t quite the ‘woke’ spectacle some viewers have painted it to be. But it has already drawn attention from critics
But it has already attracted attention, including from actor turned political party founder Laurence Fox, who, sharing a picture of the main male character with his baby bump, wrote on Twitter: ‘Netflix shares down 25% this morning. For the life of me, i can’t think why…’
It’ll also do very little to calm Musk’s claims that Netflix is being impacted by the ‘woke mind virus’.
Hit – Squid Game
The Korean survival thriller was never expected to become quite the success it turned out to be – with even Netflix describing its surge in popularity as ‘mind-boggling’.
The show, which features heavily indebted characters taking on life-or-death challenges in order to win a substantial cash prize, was produced by Siren Pictures and cost $21.4m to make, or about $2.4m an episode.
But it surged to the top of the Netflix charts, and at least 132million people worldwide watched at least two minutes of the series in the first 23 days of it airing – beating a previous record set by another hit – Bridgerton.
The Korean survival thriller was never expected to become quite the success it turned out to be – with even Netflix describing its surge in popularity as ‘mind-boggling’
At least 87million, around 66 per cent of Netflix’s viewers, went on to complete the series in that period – and viewers spent more than 1.4billion hours in total watching Squid Games. It is believed the show also generated around £655million in value for Netflix.
On top of that, the series gained critical acclaim, achieving a 94 per cent Rotten Tomatoes score and a four star review from Empire.
Hit – Bridgerton
Raunchy period drama Bridgerton set pulses racing with the on-screen chemistry between heart-throb Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page, and the target of his desires, Daphne Bridgeton, played by Phoebe Dynevor.
The high budget first series, which cost around $7million per episode, wowed fans with its fancy period costumes and depiction of upper-class Regency courtship.
Critics raved, describing it as ‘witty, daring and refreshing’ and it was a smash hit success, with more than 625.5million hours of viewing across Netflix – a record that would later be smashed by Squid Games.
Raunchy period drama Bridgerton set pulses racing with the on-screen chemistry between heart-throb Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page, and the target of his desires, Daphne Bridgeton, played by Phoebe Dynevor
Its second series failed to live up to the first, with the Guardian’s Jack Seal describing it as ‘still weeter and fizzier than rival period dramas, but without Regé-Jean Page, it’s no longer a heady, horny and impetuous watch’.
There has however been praise for Simone Ashley, the real love-interest of Viscount Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, while viewership figures held strong – more than 627million had viewed the second season since its March 25 launch.
Hit – Stranger Things
Stranger Things is perhaps ‘the’ hit that put Netflix on the map in terms of exclusive content. Before, the streaming service was best known for broadcasting older shows produced elsewhere – like Breaking Bad.
But Stranger Things, along with the likes of House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, helped push forward Netflix in its exclusive content market.
Stranger Things, along with the likes of House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, helped push forward Netflix in its exclusive content market
The science fiction horror drama, which follows a group of young friends as they witness supernatural forces and secret government exploits, ran for three season from 2016 to 2019 – and has now been renewed for two more season.
It cost around $8million an episode to make. But it was widely praised by critics and won several awards, including a Screen Actors Guild award, six Emmys, and was nominated for four Golden Globes and its last season was watched by around 40million accounts worldwide.
It also helped launch the career of British actress Millie Bobby Brown – who played Eleven in the first three seasons.
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