Mike Flanagan is one of our most exciting voices in horror, known for his ability to find something empathetic and emotionally true to the human experience through his allegorical approach to horror. When Flanagan transitioned from lower-budget feature films to creating fully-fledged miniseries for Netflix, it led to an exciting phase of his career with series like “The Haunting of Hill House,” “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” and Flanagan’s wildly-successful passion project, “Midnight Mass.”
Of course, after so much critical and commercial success, it sounded like a no-brainer to expand the “Flanaverse” by serving as a producer and writer on smaller projects while working towards his main courses. “The Midnight Club,” loosely adapted from the Christopher Pike novel of the same name, was Flanagan’s attempt at exactly that. The series followed a group of teenagers living in the Brightcliffe Home hospice care in the Pacific Northwest. To cope with their terminal illnesses, the teens frequently meet at midnight to share ghost stories. In theory, it was a snug fit into Flanagan’s horror canon in which he often emphasizes that death is just physical, and the human spirit lives on in the stories and memories we share with one another. But, between low viewership and an underwhelming critical response, it failed to make a strong impression.
Unfortunately, Flanagan’s series ended up being canceled by Netflix after just one season. This week, Flanagan and his business partner, Trevor Macy, spoke to Deadline about their adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series for Amazon Studios, in which Flanagan expanded on the conditions that led to the premature cancellation of “The Midnight Club.”
Since the news of Mike Flanagan’s migration to Amazon Studios and the cancellation of “The Midnight Club” were announced close together, Deadline asked Flanagan if his choice to step away from Netflix was a factor in their decision to cancel the series. “Oh, no, I don’t think it was a response to us leaving,” Flanagan answered. “We’re very disappointed. Of course, you always want a show that you designed to be ongoing to go on.”
Flanagan and Trevor Macy’s Intrepid Pictures have spent the last four years with an overall deal to produce original shows for Netflix. During that time, they have noticed changes in the company’s strategy and approach to launching their new shows. Though he had confidence in the series, Flanagan knew that conceptually, it was going to be a harder sell to audiences:
“When we agreed to do ‘The Midnight Club,’ the entire company was very different. I think we both feel it’s safe to say that a show like that, which we thought was innovative and harder to classify, requires some pretty robust promotion to get off the ground properly, and Netflix’s strategy for promoting new shows has changed quite a bit. So we weren’t entirely surprised at all.”
Despite being logically prepared for the show to meet its end, Flanagan points out he was still saddened by the news. Shortly after the announcement, the writer/producer posted an essay on Tumblr about how the show would have progressed in season 2. For Flanagan, it was important to avoid leaving his hardcore fans in the dark.
Mike Flanagan explained his motivations to publicly share the plans for season 2 of “The Midnight Club” by expressing that he knows how it feels to be robbed of closure:
“I love so many shows that have been canceled over the years, and I never got that closure with the story, I never got to see how they ended. So it was very important to us that we put that out for the fans to see what we would have done.”
Despite Flanagan and Trevor Macy’s departure to work with Amazon Studios and the cancellation of “The Midnight Club,” there doesn’t seem to be much bad blood between Intrepid and Netflix. In fact, there’s still one more collaboration that is set to release on Netflix in 2023 — Flanagan’s adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” According to Macy, they’ve just “locked picture on all episodes.” Flanagan told Deadline that it’s a “perfect bow for the Netflix era of Intrepid,” pulling from “many cast members and elements and themes” that Flanagan and Macy established during their Netflix collaborations.
If there’s one thing about Flanagan, it’s that he’s constantly working on the next big thing. As sad as the cancellation of “The Midnight Club” is, Flanagan still has plenty of high-profile horror projects heading our way. The new prospect of him taking on another classic Stephen King story is exciting, and we’re anticipatingly awaiting his take on the seemingly unadaptable source material of “The Dark Tower.”