Netflix is changing the way it approaches original movies.  While the streaming service is responsible for some of the most buzz-worthy TV series of the last several years, like ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Orange is the New Black’, and more, its films have, so far, failed to inspire the same watercooler reactions.  Their new film chief, Scott Stuber wants to change that and in order to do so, he and his crew are making a concerted effort to go after other types of movies.  And Stuber is aiming high, reportedly looking to land projects along the lines of Marvel’s superhero film universe and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Media analyst Steven Birenberg, says “Netflix movies get lost in the sea of TV shows on the service.  People think of originals as TV shows when it comes to streaming services, so movies get lost in the translation.”

Scott Stuber
Joe Seer /

It’s no secret that a large number of Netflix’s “original movies” are actually those that got dumped there by studios who realized that certain flicks would get massacred at the box office and didn’t want to waste any more money on them by releasing them in theaters.  Even worse, some of these movies are projects that Netflix accepted as parts of packages– in other words, if Netflix wanted movies/TV shows A, B, and C, then they would have to take X, Y, and Z along with them.

Netflix has been trying to push some of their original projects in the major awards races.  Unfortunately, while certain films like ‘Beasts of No Nations’ and ‘Mudbound’ have received acclaim, so far Netflix hasn’t taken home the gold.  But they’re still trying.  Stuber has brought in prestige directors like Alfonso Cuarón, Paul Greengrass and Ethan and Joel Coen to deliver their next projects directly to the streamer.  Cuarón’s Spanish-language family drama is considered a strong candidate for awards season, but according to insiders, if it doesn’t at least get a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, that will tank any chance Netflix has of attracting other prestige directors, who want their projects to be seen by as many people as possible… and to win awards.

Netflix actually bid on the current #1 movie in the country, ‘Crazy Rich Asians‘, but the filmmakers wanted the publicity that comes from a theatrical release.  And it looks like they made the right move.  It’s highly unlikely that the movie would be making the same waves had it gone straight to streaming.

Perhaps an even bigger challenge will be landing big ticket “summer movies.”  Netflix is shelling out between $150-170 million to make Michael Bay’s next explosion-rama starring Ryan Reynolds, with $30M of that budget going directly to Reynolds.  Netflix is ponying up $120-$150 million for Martin Scorsese’s mob movie ‘The Irishman’.  Though no financial info was given, Netflix has also landed Kevin Hart’s next comedy, ‘Black Stallions’, plus Chris Columbus’ ‘Christmas Chronicles’ and ‘Bird Box’ starring Sandra Bullock.  Netflix will also continue pursuing romantic comedies, a genre that gets a lot of streams, but that studios have all but stopped making.

But Stuber hasn’t laid out a firm game plan and that is a problem, according to CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amob, who said:

“They have a track record in TV, but investors worry that budgets can get out of hand in film. Investors want to see a track record of success in movies, but Netflix hasn’t clearly articulated a strategy.”

It is believed that the next two years will make or break Netflix as a go-to for major movies.  If they can land a major award or release a huge movie that gets people talking, then there will be a true future for them.  If not, we may be stuck with low-budget horror movies and tepid comedies.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter