King Shaka, Showtime's most expensive production to date, has been canceled by the network despite being close to complete.
Network transitions and closings like last year’s shifts with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim can often leave upcoming projects at risk of being axed, even ones that have yet to premiere. This seems to be the case with one of Showtime’s most expensive upcoming series. According to an article for JoBlo, Showtime has dropped the historical series King Shaka, which had been a passion project for acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua.
King Shaka was permanently shut down as it wrapped production in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa with just 12 days left of shooting. Apparently, there is enough footage for a full season, and filming of the final episode had already been completed. King Shaka had been one of Showtime’s most ambitious projects to date, with a budget of up to $90 million.
According to the article, the series was shut down by Showtime. Series executive producer Antoine Fuqua had previously heaped praise on the project, noting that it “offers a gateway to our past that is so critical to our global history and yet so often marginalized.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the series will be moving forward, at least not on the Showtime platform.
Antoine Fuqua made his film debut in 1998 with The Replacement Killers before reaching critical and commercial success for his breakthrough crime thriller Training Day, starring Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, and Eva Mendes in 2001. Training Day garnered Washington an Academy Award for Best Actor, while Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
The cancellation comes at a time of transition for Showtime as they merge with Paramount+, which will eventually be renamed Paramount+ with Showtime. With this comes a reevaluation of the streaming platform’s existing and upcoming series and a reframing of their releases moving forward. Unfortunately for King Shaka, this meant a full stop on the series to focus on other projects like their pre-existing franchise spinoffs of Billions and Dexter and upcoming projects from The Chi showrunner Justin Hillian and Fresh Off the Boat’s Eddie Huang.
Showtime’s King Shaka stars Charles Babalola, along with series regulars Charmaine Bingwa, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Aïssa Maïga, and Thando Dlomo, and with Tony Kgoroge, Sindi Dlatu, and Bahle Hadebe as recurring cast. King Shaka was written by Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, and executive produced by Odebunmi and Awosika, Antoine Fuqua, Bridget Carpenter, Propagate’s Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens, and Rodney Ferrell. Seith Mann, Spencer Medof, Scott Greenberg, and Michael Callas are also producers.
The news about Fuqua’s project with Showtime comes as a disappointment for fans of the filmmaker. Since Training Day, he has since worked on films such as the Gerard Butler-led Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven, and most recently, the Hulu documentary series Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers.
Although Showtime has declined to move forward with the series, it seems like there is still hope for fans interested in King Shaka. Producer CBS Studios is reportedly looking to use the footage and explore other options and landing spots for the series. For now, it will be important to look out for any more news regarding the show, as it seems that there are still many moving parts for the future of the epic.