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Netflix has a mess on its hands with the collapse of ‘House of Cards’

When “House of Cards” debuted in 2013, it catapulted Netflix into a whole new level of Hollywood recognition and acclaim. The dark political series about an unscrupulous Washington power couple became Netflix’s first breakout hit, planting a flag for the streaming service in the competitive world of original TV programming.

But just as its protagonist Frank Underwood fell ignominiously from power last season, the series itself has collapsed in scandalous fashion following allegations around actor Kevin Spacey, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous men including employees on the show.

Netflix isn’t the only company left holding the bag. Media Rights Capital is the production company that owns the series and licenses it to Netflix. Since news about Spacey broke Sunday, followed by additional allegations, the companies moved quickly to cancel the seventh season of “House of Cards” and put production of the sixth season on indefinite hold. Netflix said in a statement Friday night that it is cutting all ties with Spacey and that he will not be involved with the show that he has starred in since 2013.

“Netflix will not be involved with any further production of ‘House of Cards’ that includes Kevin Spacey,” the company said in a statement.

Both companies said they are evaluating the future of “House of Cards.” It remains unclear if writers and hundreds of Maryland-based crew are being kept on the payroll as executives decide on the fate of the sixth season.

MRC would be on the hook for whatever expenses have to be absorbed as production on “House of Cards” is shut down, though the company could have insurance to cover such events.

“House of Cards” is estimated to cost several millions of dollars per episode, with each season consisting of 13 installments.

MRC sold the international rights for “House of Cards” to Netflix in a deal estimated to be worth more than $200 million, according to one industry executive familiar with the show.

Even if Netflix emerges relatively unscathed from “House of Cards,” the streaming service faces another challenge with an upcoming movie it is making with Spacey, in which he plays the late writer Gore Vidal.

The movie, which had been expected to be released next year, is believed to focus on the years that Vidal spent in virtual exile in Italy. Netflix said Friday night that it will not release the film.

Netflix rival Amazon Studios confronted its own scandal last month when Roy Price resigned as head of the studio after accusations made by an executive producer that Price had made lewd remarks and unwanted advances.

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