Netflix Loses $55 Million on Sci-Fi Series as Director Gambles on Stocks and Crypto

Netflix’s foray into producing a sci-fi series with Carl Erik Rinsch, the director of “47 Ronin,” has evolved into a cautionary tale of mismanagement and broken promises. In a substantial agreement, Netflix handed Rinsch $61.2 million for the series “Conquest.” However, by March 2020, despite having already spent $44.3 million, Rinsch requested an additional $11 million from Netflix, warning that production would stop without it, according to The New York Times.

Contrary to the intended use, Rinsch allocated a considerable portion of this funding to personal financial ventures. He gambled $10.5 million from the 2020 funding on the stock market, resulting in a $5.9 million loss. Changing his strategy, Rinsch then invested in the cryptocurrency market, where his $4 million stake in Dogecoin turned into nearly $27 million.

Rinsch’s lavish expenditures didn’t end with his crypto success. He reportedly spent $8.7 million on high-end vehicles, including a Ferrari and five Rolls-Royces, as well as on designer goods. These expenses were highlighted in a report by a forensic accountant hired during Rinsch’s divorce proceedings.

Rinsch, whose previous directorial effort was the 2013 feature film “47 Ronin” starring Keanu Reeves, which scored a mere 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, managed to convince Netflix that “Conquest” could become a major sci-fi franchise akin to “Stranger Things.” Despite his reputation for erratic behavior and the lack of a complete script for the series at the time of the pitch, Netflix provided Rinsch with the largest budget it had ever allocated to a first-time showrunner and even gave him final cut privileges.

Despite Netflix’s significant investment, the streaming giant has not received any completed episodes of “Conquest.” Thomas Cherian, a spokesperson for Netflix, noted that the company had written off the series, expressing skepticism about Rinsch’s commitment to fulfilling the project as agreed. The situation has escalated to confidential arbitration proceedings between Netflix and Rinsch, with Rinsch claiming that Netflix owes him at least $14 million in damages for breaching their contract.

The saga underscores the risks and challenges streaming platforms face when managing large-scale projects, especially with creatives who have limited track records. It also brings into question the oversight and decision-making processes in these high-budget ventures.

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