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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

We’re living in a time of massive change in the film industry. Once upon a time, movies would run in theaters until the film started to tear, and audiences would come out in droves because there were no TVs, and no way to consume these stories at home.

Times changed when television hit, and the industry had to adapt to that particular beast. Now, we’ve reached a new era where streaming is all the rage. Practically everyone and their mom is creating a streaming service of their own, and Netflix — the leading name in streaming — has gone on to produce a myriad of TV content.

RELATED: Disney Will Need Over 30 Million Subscribers For Their Streaming Service To Break Even

In more recent years, they’ve also started focusing on film content. In addition to the TV shows, they’ve been putting out midbudget films like hotcakes. Some of the more recent offerings were War Machine, Okja, and Death Note. Coming up this year as potentially the biggest highlight is the David Ayer-directed urban fantasy, Bright, which has a budget of $90 million.

They’ve managed to secure some pretty big actors like Will Smith, Willem Dafoe, Noomi Rapace, Tilda Swinton, and a whole lot more. It seemed like they were gaining real credibility, and blazing a brand new trail of filmmaking. However, when asked about this at a recent media event, Stacey Snider, chairwoman and CEO of Fox’s film division, threw shade at Netflix.

“I couldn’t find, and I won’t say their names, the Netflix movies that we were supposed to be upset got made at Netflix. Point me to an article or campaign that gets me excited. There’s nothing about the experience of making them in a churn-like environment that appeals to filmmakers. This is not conjecture on my part — I speak to them. There’s nothing better about watching a film on Netflix or Amazon. There just isn’t.”

Okay, so there’s a lot to unpack there.

Let’s start with that first statement. Basically it sounds like others have led her to believe that studios should be upset, since Netflix is making movies that they normally wouldn’t make. Apparently, she sees few films with merit there, and as a result, isn’t upset that they didn’t end up at Fox. There’s nothing there to make her excited.

Fair enough, she’s not a fan of what they’ve produced.

She then criticizes them for making them in a “churn-like environment.” She has a point there. Due to Netflix trying to get as much original content on their site, they’re putting down a significant amount of money to put out these movies. In doing so, they pad their library with a lot of movies.

In addition to adding a higher figure to their “originals” category, they also are able to make a bunch of different types of movies that appeal to different niches. While I see this as a good thing, Snider seems to believe that it likely decreases the value of the film in the eyes of a filmmaker (at least that’s what I can gather based on her statement). If there are a lot of different films hitting, each gets less attention, less focus, and is therefore less appealing to filmmakers. And, if she’s telling the truth, she’s spoken to filmmakers who feel the same way.

Of course, this is all hearsay from someone who has a real dog in this race, so it’s no surprise she’d say something like that.

Will Smith in Netflix’s Bright. However, there are some filmmakers that would disagree. At San Diego Comic-Con this year, Bright helmer David Ayer had nothing but positive to say about his experience with Netflix.

“For me the only real difference is just there is a lot more freedom of creativity and it’s less about how we’re going to see this and more about just having another cool place as a filmmaker to go make movies.”

Additionally, in an interview with us here at LRM, Death Note producer Masi Oka stated that the film would not have happened without Netflix.

“Netflix came in and saved the day. Warners was not going to make it anymore, and Netflix said, ‘You know what? We love it.’ We’re actually very grateful, because this movie actually wouldn’t have been made at any other studio because of the content. Because [director] Adam [Wingard] wanted to push the envelope. There’s a lot of gore, and that gore is not gratuitous. I think it’s really important to the storytelling to let people know that these are life or deaths takes. It was important to push the envelope. And because of Netflix and how they allowed us to have creative freedom, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have been able to push that creative envelope and put Adam’s vision on screen.”

Of course, there are positive statements, but just as Snider has a dog in this race in terms of praising more traditional filmmaking, Ayer and Oka are also pushing their own films, and working to remain in Netflix’s good graces. So we just have to think about the evidence they’re presenting. Sadly, at this point, it seems far too early to make any assumptions about this.

We can see it both ways. From all we’ve heard, filmmakers are given a decent amount of freedom because the way they track success is a lot different from how studios do.

The result? Netflix is churning out a lot of varied content, trying to cover their bases and appeal to a wide array of audiences. While some folks (like Snider) may see this as a bad thing, we’re not so sure. In all honesty, we’d love to hear some thoughts on actual filmmakers discussing this topic. As of right now, the only ones we’re hearing from are those who revere the theater-going experience, like Christopher Nolan.

Are there filmmakers who think that Netflix is actually ruining the process of making films? We’d like to know.

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SOURCE: The Los Angeles Times

  • Victor Roa

    SHOTS FIRED! Plus with snark, using the term “churn” instead of “Binge watch” that’s clever.
    The real problem is the landscape has changed so much, sometimes moves don’t do as well in theaters and are better off on TV instead, and some tv shows get no promotion and get rescheduled and canceled…. Fox is only releasing 18 films next year, 3 of them animated and 4 of them comic book based.

  • mahunterjr

    It’s obvious why the film industry resents Netflix. It robs them of their opportunity to sell their films 4 different times before it runs its course.

    They want the theatrical release ticket sales. Then they want the digital rental before the DVD comes out. They’d they want the DVD and Blu Ray sales. Then they want HBO,Stars and Cinemax to pay to put it in their rotation. Then they want network TV to do the same. They want to create these long tales of revenue.

    When a movie is made by Netflix for Netflix, people are just gonna use their subscription to access the content- less money is changing hands, less often. This SCARES the industry.

    • Now we’re getting to the real issue: secondary market. Most Hollywood films lose money until the secondary market. I think TV Networks are facing the same dilemma: syndication may
      diminish as fewer network shows hit 88 episodes (because ratings are so
      low, few shows can secure the ad dollars to get there). Netflix is potentially eating the lunches of movie studios and TV networks.

  • Jeremy Alexander

    Yeah, it must be really unappealing to content creators since it creates a large chunk of the best movies and television around. And god knows those consumers hate it, they’ve swelled to a mere 100 million. These are just complaints by another dinosaur company that hasn’t heard the asteroid hit yet, but is complaining about it suddenly getting so hot.

  • JitenGohil

    Yeah, it must be really unappealing to content creators since it creates a large chunk of the best movies and television around. And god knows those consumers hate it, they’ve swelled to a mere 100 million. These are just complaints by another dinosaur company that hasn’t heard the asteroid hit yet, but is complaining about it suddenly getting so hot.

    • Well said, I concur. My local movie theater shows blockbuster films at a 10:1 ratio over small or indie films (and the latter only get 1-3 weeks, at most, before they’re pushed out). At Netflix, a mid-budget film, like War Machine, can find an audience over time; if the film is solid it will flourish there. Additionally, the producers of mid-budget films premiering on Netflix do not have to spend anywhere near the same marketing dollars as a mid-budget theatrical release. Seems like two different eco-systems for films of differing scope and scale, which is a good thing!

  • ElephantLeg

    SHOTS FIRED! Plus with snark, using the term “churn” instead of “Binge watch” that’s clever. The real problem is the landscape has changed so much, sometimes moves don’t do as well in theaters and are better off on TV instead, and some tv shows get no promotion and get rescheduled and canceled…. Fox is only releasing 18 films next year, 3 of them animated and 4 of them comic book based.

  • SaiyanHeretic

    So, just the usual sour grapes? Yeah, Netflix shook things up, but even streaming services aren’t idiot-proof, and we’re starting to see the cracks in the foundation of that business model. Imagine how upset the old guard will be when the next big thing to come around replaces the thing that had already replaced them.

  • Mad Barchetta

    Well, sure…and I certainly have read about how wonderful a creative environment Fox provides.

    So, Fox would prefer to continue to shell out huge amounts of money make single films meant to appeal to the maximum amount of people, leading to watered-down PG-13 shite that ends up not much satisfying anyone. Meanwhile, Netflix has spend their money on a diverse selection of films that appeal to varied sets of specific audiences, more of which end up satisfied with the results.

    So, Fox, where does the traditional film business seem to be going and how well has Netflix been doing?

  • jeremiah johnson

    So, just the usual sour grapes? Yeah, Netflix shook things up, but even streaming services aren’t idiot-proof, and we’re starting to see the cracks in the foundation of that business model. Imagine how upset the old guard will be when the next big thing to come around replaces the thing that had already replaced them.

  • Martin

    It’s obvious why the film industry resents Netflix. It robs them of their opportunity to sell their films 4 different times before it runs its course.They want the theatrical release ticket sales. Then they want the digital rental before the DVD comes out. They’d they want the DVD and Blu Ray sales. Then they want HBO,Stars and Cinemax to pay to put it in their rotation. Then they want network TV to do the same. They want to create these long tales of revenue.When a movie is made by Netflix for Netflix, people are just gonna use their subscription to access the content- less money is changing hands, less often. This SCARES the industry.

    • mahunterjr

      Lol did you really just copy and paste my response?

      • Gabbo is Coming

        Wow, yeah, didn’t even try to hide it, either. Here, I can copy and paste, too:

        It’s obvious why the film industry resents Netflix. It robs them of
        their opportunity to sell their films 4 different times before it runs
        its course.They want the theatrical release ticket sales. Then they want
        the digital rental before the DVD comes out. They’d they want the DVD
        and Blu Ray sales. Then they want HBO,Stars and Cinemax to pay to put it
        in their rotation. Then they want network TV to do the same. They want
        to create these long tales of revenue.When a movie is made by Netflix
        for Netflix, people are just gonna use their subscription to access the
        content- less money is changing hands, less often. This SCARES the
        industry.

  • GoldenState17

    netflix is everywhere these days jeez

  • DutchLion

    netflix is everywhere these days jeez

  • Joseph Chaisson

    It’s simple not one wants to spend 15+ dollars on a movie that has a high suckage percent. They will spend around 9 dollars to unlimited access and will check out movies that may have high suckle percent.
    To studios that hate Netflix. Don’t make crappy movies.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.