3 Body Problem at risk of cancellation? Here's why Netflix might stop the popular sci-fi series

The cancellation of the series is becoming more and more likely.

Image Credit: Netflix

We expected a lot from 3 Body Problem, the science fiction series from the creators of Game of Thrones. The problem is that its premiere on Netflix ended with rather disappointing viewing figures, and things didn't improve in its second week on the streaming platform. 3 Body Problem was supposed to be the new Netflix hit, but that wasn't the case. Specifically, the series added 115.6 million hours between March 25 and March 31, which translates to an estimated 15.6 million views. 

These are by no means spectacular figures and represent negligible growth compared to the weekend of its premiere – 81.7 million hours and 11 million views. On paper, the numbers for 3 Body Problem aren't bad, but things get complicated when you get into the details. The first and most important point is the enormous cost that the series is said to have had, with the Wall Street Journal speaking of 20 million dollars per episode. Figures never previously achieved by a Netflix original series.

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To make a recent comparison, The Gentlemen, a spin-off of Guy Ritchie's famous film, had better viewing figures and a much lower cost. We could easily talk about a quarter of the 160 million of The 3 Body Problem, even less. A good reference to try to predict Netflix's decision on the future of the series is also the case of 1899. The now-canceled series from the creators of Dark had slightly lower figures than The Three-Body Problem, as it started with 79, 27 million hours in the first weekend, increasing to 87.29 in the second.

Image Credit: Netflix

The key is once again the cost since it seems that 1899 had a budget of around 60 million - even if Netflix's investment was 48. The difference with the 160 million of The Three-Body Problem is overwhelming. The streaming giant may deduce that it is not worth continuing, also because the show's creators have said that they already have a second season ready (and that the series should continue for other seasons to make sense). All that's missing on the table is the green light from Netflix.

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Another comparable case is that of Sandman since it started with similar figures (69.48 million hours viewed the first weekend and 127.5 million the second week). Fans will surely still remember the agony of waiting for season two, with Neil Gaiman confessing that it risked being "too expensive". According to Deadline, Sandman's per-episode budget was $15 million, meaning each episode of The Three-Body Problem costs 33% more. There are already too many negative signs for this adaptation of Liu Cixin's literary saga.

Obviously, other factors may come into play, but the truth is that The 3-Body Problem is in a somewhat precarious situation right now. Technically you can't say it was a failure – the vast majority of series can barely dream of viewing figures like that – but the fact that it was a disappointment in terms of audiences is beyond doubt. Now we'll have to see if the audience won't suffer a drop in the next few weeks, but for now, things are at 50%.

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