IP & Litigation

Why did Michaela Coel Turn Down Netflix’s $1 Million Offer for I May Destroy You?

/ / Why did Michaela Coel Turn Down Netflix’s $1 Million Offer for I May Destroy You?

$1 Million may sound like a fair enough offer, for rights to a show. But,  Michaela Cole, the creator and star of the dramedy series  I May Destroy You, has come a long way since her last show Chewing Gum.

She refused the ‘generous’ offer by Netflix to produce her latest offering. One may wonder why?

The answer is as simple as – she wanted to retain a percentage of the copyright to the show she created. Michaela Coel This series, on HBO that delves into the psychological realness and raw emotional journey one goes through in the aftermath of sexual assault. Cole wrote all 12 episodes of the series and co-directed 9 on them. Netflix was her natural choice to pitch the series first, after the award-winning success of Chewing Gum, and an Emmy award-winning ‘Black Mirror’ episode they jointly did.

She was offered $1 Million by the streaming platform for the show, but for her, it was more than just the money. After being creatively sidelined from her previous show Chewing Gum, writer & actor Cole wanted the right creative support for this series as it stems from her own personal experience with sexual assault which she experienced during the filming of Chewing Gum.

She stood her ground on retaining some portion of the creative rights for the show, and even countered Netflix with 5% copyright share, then 2%, and finally even 0.5%. Her appeal to have some kind of creative control over her coveted project of 12 episodes, was met with silence on the other side of the line. But she does recall the executive on the line tell her – “She was doing the right thing.”

Upon hearing those words, it clicked for Coel: “I’m not crazy. This is crazy.

She turned down the Netflix deal, and even cut off ties with her agency after learning they would get a share of the deal if it went through. But, for Cole that did not mean the end to her pursuit. She pitched the show to BBC who obliged her with full creative control and rights to the show. Later, even HBO teamed up with her to produce it. Today, “I May Destroy You” is the frontrunner to be one of the best new shows on television.

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