Many shows end up having troubled production or exceed their initial budget, it’s something many producers are prepared for. Few shows however, end up up costing $30 million dollars more than what was originally planned. After encountering a multitude of issues and difficulties, Variety has reported that Baz Luhrmann’s new Netflix original series The Get Down will end up costing $120 million dollars, making it Netflix’s most expensive series to date.
When The Get Down was first announced in February of 2015, no one knew how difficult even the pre-production had been on Luhrmann. According to Entertainment Weekly, the series was something Luhrmann had “been contemplating and working on now for over 10 years.” The show was described as “a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco”, and Luhrmann added that he was “obsessed with the idea of how a city in its lowest moment, forgotten and half destroyed, could give birth to such creativity and originality in music, art and culture.” The Get Down was set to be a big production with an even bigger story to tell, but no one anticipated the struggles that would follow its conception.
Over the next few years, the show and Luhrmann would run through several writers, two showrunners, and additional bickering and tension with producer Sony Pictures Television. The first season was scheduled for 13 one hour episodes, which were each estimated to cost around $7.5 million dollars, but by the end of production the entire season ended up costing $120 million.
Luhrmann, who had planned to direct the first two episodes and the season finale, stated he had only expected to help get the series started and anticipated only some involvement with the on going production, stating “I really believed that I was sort of going to be an uncle to the project”. As production continued, the nature of the show and the lack of precedent for what the show was trying to achieve ended up drawing Luhrmann “more into the center of it.” Once Luhrmann became more involved with the series, even more issues began to arise. Production began to slow down as the budget began to rise to unexpected heights, and creative differences regarding the direction of the show created tension between Luhrmann, Netflix, and Sony TV. Netflix was adamant about keeping Luhrmann’s involvement high and his idea pure, while Sony TV insisted the show needed a more experienced showrunner to help guide production and control the expanding budget. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, was so intent upon having Luhrmann fully committed to the entire production of the series he allegedly stated that he would not move the series from the development phase to a formal greenlight until Luhrmann agreed to be involved till production ended.
Netflix still stands by the show despite the troubles it has caused. Netflix’s VP of original content Cindy Holland has stated “We’re about supporting our artists and supporting their vision. Working with Baz and his team was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every aspect of the process was unconventional. It was really inspiring.” Despite their differences with Netflix and Luhrmann, Sony Pictures Television president Zack Van Amburg has said “Netflix is a tremendous partner whose engagement and support is invaluable,” “Baz is a creative visionary with an exuberance and style that stands apart. Collaborating with them has made The Get Down a work of intense devotion and immersive storytelling.”
The Get Down will be a musical drama set in New York City’s South Bronx and will cover the story of a young group and kids who dream of creating a new genre of music that incorporates their own views and values with the rhythm and beats of the soon to emerge style of Hip-hop. The show will weave together their story with song and dance numbers, both original and of the time period, as a way to involve music in the story telling process.
Netflix has also recently released a new trailer for the series which you can check out below. The first 6 episodes of The Get Down will premiere August 12, with the remaining episodes coming sometime in 2017.