Netflix’s original programming engine is relatively mysterious to both viewers and journalists. The streaming service produces shows, doesn’t disclose how many people watch them, and then renews them or not. It’s somewhat hard to tell which series are doing better than others, or predict when a show will be renewed or cancelled, but one thing is clear: Netflix is getting more ambitious, and that’s proven by the launch of its biggest series yet.
Netflix has given up 100 million British pounds (more than $150 million U.S. dollars) to produce The Crown, a new series that will chronicle the life of Queen Elizabeth II beginning with her 1947 wedding and continuing to the present day. The show was created by Peter Morgan, who wrote the acclaimed Queen Elizabeth film The Queen, and is directed by Stephen Daldry, whose previous credits include Billy Elliot and The Hours. The series will be based, at least in part, on The Audience, the acclaimed stage play in which Queen Elizabeth interacts with various prime ministers throughout her reign.
Claire Foy, known to American audiences for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, will play the young Elizabeth, while former Doctor Who star Matt Smith will play her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. At the moment, the plan is for the series to run for 60 episodes over six seasons, with the option to replace Foy and Smith with older actors after the first two seasons.
Netflix has already established itself with hits like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and Daredevil. It’s an original series powerhouse already, but this feels like a next-level project. This is an attempt at a longform, luxurious series that will capture a significant moment in the history of the 20th century while also incubating some powerful dramatic moments. If Netflix can pull this off, it’ll open the door to all manner of other series.
To see photos from The Crown’s shoot, head to The Telegraph.