There was a time when streaming services threw money at any project that seemed interesting (and profitable). In 2018, one of those prosperous years, Carl Erik Rinsch managed to attract Netflix to finance his promising science fiction series. At that time, no one would have guessed that the project would never see the light of day, resulting in a loss of 55 million dollars along the way.
Rinsch had only one film on his resume, ‘47 Ronin,’ which had been a major failure that not even the good old Keanu Reeves could salvage. However, during that time, the streaming boom had just begun, and the industry was thirsty for content. Following ’47 Ronin,’ Rinsch began developing ‘White Horse,’ a dystopian series centered around artificial humanoid beings.
Using his own money (along with donations from Keanu Reeves aside), the director started filming several prototypes, intending to showcase them to various streaming platforms. Amazon showed interest and nearly secured the project. However, Netflix swooped in at the last minute with a multimillion-dollar contract that easily convinced Rinsch. It’s a move they’re probably regretting now.
Disaster struck swiftly. Despite Netflix granting Rinsch absolute creative freedom and agreeing to pay $61.2 million for the series (which changed its name to ‘Conquest’), not a single finished episode has been seen. And that’s not even considering the chaotic filming process.
Remember, the series had already begun filming before Netflix’s backing came into play. To cut costs and sidestep Hollywood’s union regulations, Rinsch assembled a primarily European team. According to crew members, there were days that stretched to 24 hours, and the lead actress even had to make hospital visits due to hypothermia.
However, now the situation was different: he had Netflix’s money, so everything would calm down, right? Not at all. Part of the filming took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then in Budapest, Uruguay, and Montevideo. In Sao Paulo, the local actors’ union received complaints about Rinsch’s behavior on set, where he mistreated the crew and insults rained down. Meanwhile, during the Budapest shoot, Rinsch spent several days without sleep and accused his wife of conspiring to have him killed.
And what about the money? Over the years, Netflix had already poured $44.3 million into the project without seeing any results. The arrival of the coronavirus only made things worse. Despite delays and initial reluctance, Netflix granted Rinsch an additional $11 million. However, that money went elsewhere: investments in cryptocurrencies, buying stocks in the stock market, and a few luxury cars. In a matter of weeks, Rinsch managed to lose $5.9 million.
Despite Netflix’s numerous attempts to push Rinsch to move ‘Conquest’ forward, the inevitable happened: the series was ultimately canceled. Thus, ‘Conquest’ joins the ranks of the many million-dollar productions that end up in the trash.