Altered Carbon Cancelled at Netflix

More expensive than early Game of Thrones, with none of its cultural value.

Altered Carbon Cancelled at Netflix

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix

Anthony Mackie as Takeshi Kovacs in Altered Carbon season 2

  • Altered Carbon premiered in early 2018 on Netflix
  • Wasn’t received very well critically or commercially
  • Its per-episode cost didn’t justify renewal, report says

Altered Carbon is dead for good. Netflix has cancelled the futuristic sci-fi series after two seasons, which were led by Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) and Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), respectively. Based on English author Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels — 2002's “Altered Carbon” and 2003's “Broken Angels” — Altered Carbon was set in a world where human consciousness (“stack”) could be transferred from one body (“sleeve”) to another, allowing (rich) people to essentially live forever. The Netflix series followed Kovacs, a former soldier turned PI. Kinnaman and Mackie both played the character, thanks to the central concept.

Deadline first brought word of Altered Carbon getting the axe at Netflix, with Altered Carbon season 2 showrunner Alison Schapker confirming the news on her Twitter account a few hours later: “Grateful for every minute I got working with the incredibly talented writers, cast and crew of [Altered Carbon Season 2]. Thanks to all who went on the journey with us.” Neither Kinnaman nor Mackie have commented on the news, though you wouldn't expect them to, given that the actor for Kovacs was expected to change with every season. Even if Netflix had ordered an Altered Carbon season 3, they wouldn't have been involved, most likely, except in any potential flashbacks.

Netflix has not commented on why it cancelled the series, though Deadline claims it's a case of the viewership not justifying the money that was spent on the show. Altered Carbon was an expensive show, reportedly Netflix's most expensive to date when it ordered it to series in early 2016 from Shutter Island screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis. According to some estimates, each Altered Carbon episode cost around $7 million (roughly Rs. 52 crores). Kinnaman had famously said it had a “bigger budget than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones.” Of course, the Netflix series didn't deliver anywhere close to the HBO epic, in terms of critical, commercial, or cultural value.

Though Altered Carbon premiered to generally favourable reviews in early 2018, we took a much dimmer view of the series, labelling Kovacs a drab and passive character, calling the plot and action incoherent, and drowning its class themes amidst copious amounts of violence. Ultimately, we felt that it had an expensive sleeve with a missing stack. Critics were split over Altered Carbon season 2; while it managed a better rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it had more or less the same score on fellow aggregator Metacritic.

Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS. You can also download the episode or just hit the play button below.


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Further reading: Altered Carbon, Netflix
Akhil Arora
Akhil Arora covers entertainment for Gadgets 360, interviewing stars such as Christian Bale and Anurag Kashyap, covering series premieres, product and service launches across the globe, and looking at American blockbusters and Indian dramas from a global socio-political and feminist perspective. As a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, Akhil has reviewed over 150 movies and TV shows in over half a decade at Gadgets 360. When he is not completely caught up with new film and TV releases, Akhil ...More
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