As you may have noticed with previous Film Crew articles, we’ve talked about certain filmmakers while looking forward to something they’re about to release. This week, we are going to change it up by talking about a streaming service that is becoming a strong contender in original content. Step aside A24*, we may have another great distribution company.
*Note: A24 would be a great choice for Film Crew, but David Ehrlich wrote a fantastic profile on them over at Slate. Also, anything A24 releases gets an automatic ticket purchase from me, as their track record is incredible.
I remember when I first signed up to Netflix back in 2013 after hearing about the services, the huge variety of films (what they don’t tell you, is how hard it is to pick one), and an announcement of their first original series, House of Cards. Truthfully, it was David Fincher’s involvement as producer and director of the first two episodes that made me sign up. As everyone is aware now, the way the world watches television is no longer in week-to-week episodic structures, but rather binge watching. Netflix figured this out for their first show and they’ve ran with it, and never had to look back.
The shows they went on to produce are always completely addictive, and cause the viewer to lose a minimum of 3 hours of their time from watching the show straight from beginning to end. This is how they reel in their audience; making great content that keeps you on the couch, (or bed, or even on trains, as there are apps for tablets and phones) watching non-stop.
Their next big hit in the same year was Orange is the New Black. Both shows are still airing, as House of Cards just recently released their fourth season all at once (which is their binge-watching release schedule) and OITNB‘s next season comes out in June.
Once again, all the episodes are released at the same time, at midnight PST (3am EST, which I’ve stayed up to). Typically, like movies, they’re released on Friday, and most fans of the content will end up taking in the entire season by Monday. Nobody wants to come into work on Monday and not be aware of what Frank Underwood has up his sleeve.
Netflix has also become a bit of a saving grace for certain shows. Offering a new platform for Arrested Development and The Killing. There has been discussions for other shows to join the streaming service, such as Firefly and Community, but so far, no luck.
They’ve stuck to their ground and are fighting for just as many great properties as they possibly can. While at first they were known for their drama, they’ve had such luck in other genres, such as stand-up (Aziz Ansari, Mike Birbiglia, Doug Benson, Nick Offerman, Chris Tucker, to list a few), animation (for kids and adults), and superheroes (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and more on the way).
Two comedies recently released, Master of None and Love (November and February respectively), are both shows I could write extended pieces for. Aziz Ansari takes Master of None and owns every moment of it. Though he doesn’t direct an episode (but other big directors do), it’s entirely his own voice, using bits from his comedy specials and placing them in a realistic context. The show is so wonderfully cinematic that I constantly forget I’m watching a show. Judd Apatow’s Love is the same, while maybe not as strong visually/cinematically, the incredibly well constructed characters and the phenomenal dialogue keeps you glued to the screen for the entire series. I have seen both shows in full at least twice.
Tomorrow, Netflix is releasing season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil, along with Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (co-written by Paul Rust from Love), and they aren’t slowing down from there. Back at Sundance, the big smash hit was Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation, making news as it was bought by Fox Searchlight for a record breaking $17.5 million, despite an offer from Netflix of $20 million.
Last year, Netflix put out a film by writer/director/cinematographer Cary Joji Fukunaga. Sadly, Beasts of No Nation received no nominations at the Oscars, leading some to believe the reason was its same-day release through Netflix. It is for this reason that Nate Parker decided to go with Fox Searchlight.
Along with pre-existing content that they have the rights to stream (such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad), they still have other new programs such as The Get Down (from Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan), Defenders (a street team version of the Avengers), and each of their spin-offs (Luke Cage, Iron Fist). This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could be here recounting every single new release coming out, but I’d be here for hours.
Near the beginning of the month, a report came out saying David Ayer (director of End of Watch, Fury, and Suicide Squad) seemingly enjoyed working with Will Smith so much that he was reteaming with him for a film called Bright, co-starring Joel Edgerton. The world the film is set in is brimming with orcs and fairies, and has Edgerton playing an orc cop. On March 9th it was announced that, after a bidding war, Netflix won the rights for Bright. The film is reported to have about an $80 million budget, leading it to be Netflix’s biggest acquisition to date. And if history foretells the future, this is only a sign of bigger things to come.
Netflix has changed the game; the internet has killed the distribution star.
Long live the new flesh.