Carl Rinsch was intended to direct a Netflix series that has since lost the streaming giant a reported $55 million dollars, the particulars of which have only recently become accessible to the public sphere. Rinsch, known for his work in the commercial sphere, was responsible for a tumultuous production process plagued by missed deadlines and hollow promises, straining a relationship with the streaming platform that had outbid Disney, Apple, and Amazon Prime Video to secure a sci-fi series that had all the epic features of The Expanse, Foundation , and Raised by Wolves. The series would have been part of Netflix’s sci-fi and fantasy line up for 2022.

For those fans curious about the inner-workings of the film and television industry, and how incredible amounts of money can be moved around with such creative celerity, the report about Rinsch and Netflix’s collaboration offers welcome transparency. No longer are the details of such fallouts kept hidden out of a risk to either party’s reputation, but instead given a chance to expose the context of a potentially contentious situation. And, in Netflix’s case, perhaps incur public favor in future negotiations with creative partners.

Carl Rinsch’s only other movie credit is 47 Ronin, a $175 million box office bomb for Keanu Reeves that disappointed fans and critics alike. While it had some impressive visual effects, a strong cast, including Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4 costar Hiroyuki Sanada, and a fascinating blend of East-meets-West mythology, it failed to execute its ideas artfully. Prior to 47 Ronin, Rinsch had made an award-winning short film entitled The Gift which received acclaim at the 2010 Cannes Lions advertising festival, and after the failure of the film, he returned to making commercials, all the while a sci-fi passion project was gestating in the back of his mind.

Netflix spent $55 million on Carl Rinsch’s Conquest, a sci-fi series that the streaming giant beat out Amazon Prime Video to obtain in 2018, but Carl Rinsch never delivered a single episode. Per the agreement, Rinsch would get final cut and an eight-figure offer, but after the deal was made, the series became inundated with issues behind-the-scenes. Netflix still believed in the show’s potential, with a focus on Organic Intelligent (artificial humans) serving as peacekeepers around the world, their true purpose eventually discovered by a few discerning humans, and a conflict that erupts between humankind and the synthetic beings.

After Netflix sunk $55 million into the series and Rinsch never produced one episode, an investigation was launched into the production. Rinsch exhibited erratic behavior on-set after taking a prescribed amphetamine known as Lisdexamfetamine, which if taken improperly can result in mania, hallucinations, and more, which plunged filming into chaos. Rinsch was known to have divisive theories about the origin of Covid-19 and sent Netflix executives bizarre emails discussing “the coronavirus signal emanating from within the earth.”

Rinsch also bet on cryptocurrencies with $11 million of Netflix’s money, which he transferred to his own account and used to invest in Dogecoin in 2020, cashing out in May 2021 and netting $23 million, and purchasing several models of Ferrari, Rolls-Royces, and other luxury items. Journalist John Carreyrou published his 2023 piece in The New York Times exposing Carl Rinsch’s behavior, which included violent behavior around his wife and creative partner, Gabriela Rosés Bentancor, and declared that Netflix had pulled the plug on the series without being able to recover any of the funds Rinsch had used.

After The New York Times exposed him, Carl Rinsch refuted everything in a since-deleted Instagram post, though he’s looking for restitution from Netflix to the tune of $14 million for their breach of contract. He never acknowledged using money intended for Conquest to fund his lifestyle, that he’d demanded more money after it was spent, nor that members of Conquest’s crew had tried to launch an intervention on his behalf to get him into rehab. He predicted that the article would simply want to “discuss the fact that I somehow lost my mind … (Spoiler alert) … I did not,” but would otherwise not validate any of the claims against him.

Netflix made an official statement in The New York Times report, explaining that “after a lot of time and effort, it became clear that Mr. Rinsch was never going to complete the project he agreed to make, and so we wrote the project off.” In the end, while it might seem like an outrageous amount of money to lose, even on an ambitious project, learning about the hurdles and challenges that can accrue in any creative endeavor, especially where mental health may also be a concern, is something that has value for fans desiring to learn more about how intricate sci-fi series with large scale world-building are brought to life.

Source: The New York Times

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