What do Roma, Annihilation and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs all have in common? They were on many critics’ year-end lists, but what else? How about that they premiered on Netflix!
2018 was the year that Netflix film releases had to be taken seriously
Yes, they released one of the year’s worst reviewed films, The Cloverfield Paradox, and one of the most derided films in The Kissing Booth, plus a dozen semi-low budget movies that no one watched. But they also put out new films by Oscar winning directors Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen Brothers.
Netflix, and TV viewing habits in general, has come a long way from 2013 when their first original series, House of Cards, launched
Now 43 Primetime Emmys and 9 Golden Globes later, it’s hard to fathom some observers doubted Netflix would become a serious player in TV. Why would anyone today be skeptical that they will become a HUGE presence for films?
And if there are unbelievers, the sheer volume and scope of Netflix’s commitment to original films in 2019 and beyond will force them to at least pay attention.
In 2019, Netflix intends to release 90 films
This includes Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, starring Robert Di Nero, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and a reported budget of $200 million!
Is 90 films a lot? Compared to the number of Hallmark original holiday movies each year, it’s meh. But against the 30-35 films the major movie studios (Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount) will put out, hell yes it’s a lot.
Traditional film releases must compete each Friday. It’s a chess game that has the studios planning which weekend to launch films before any footage is even shot. In owning the distribution model, Netflix can drop a film whenever they want. They only compete against other Netflix programming, with the marketing challenge of standing out on the platform. Something that appears to have been mastered for Bird Box with a over 40 million user accounts streaming the film in its first week.
Now enough about Netflix!
Amazon Studios has a robust film program (Manchester by the Sea, The Quiet Place), but most of the titles are only in theaters for the initial run. I can see that changing soon, with experiments in simultaneous home and limited theatrical releases. Like Netflix did with Roma. I want to dig in more as to what Hulu is doing. They’ve had success with limited series events (The Looming Tower) but I think yet to release an original film that has taken hold.