Netflix is changing its approach to creating new content by focusing more on quality and less on quantity.
The streaming giant is scaling back from producing 50 films a year to 25 to 30, focusing on solid projects with audience and potential Oscar appeal, according to Variety. One such film, Maestro, was directed, written, and stars Bradley Cooper, received a lot of praise from audiences and critics and shows a change in Netflix’s strategy.
Netflix chairman Scott Stuber says Netflix no longer has a minimum quota of films to produce each year, and the company is focusing on creating “the best” entertainment possible.
“Right now, we’re not trying to hit a set number of film releases,” Stuber told Variety. “And let’s actually put forth a slate that we can stand behind and say, ‘this is the best version of a romantic comedy. This is the best version of a thriller. This is the best version of a drama.’”
The move marks a shift away from Stuber’s long-held approach of pushing out tons of new content in hopes some of it lands with audiences. In 2020, Netflix planned to release a new movie every week, coming out with hits like Oscar-winning Roma and a slew of films like Thunder Force and The Last Thing He Wanted that didn’t take off with viewers.
Instead, Netflix is putting more effort and investments in projects with mass audience appeal. The studio acquired a provocative political film, Fair Play, for $20 million after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It released Pain Hustlers last month, a dark comedy starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans as unethical pharmaceutical reps, following in the footsteps of other Netflix series focusing on the shady world of drug companies like Painkillers and The Fall of the House of Usher, which were both met with high praise.
Netflix has several noteworthy titles debuting this fall, including the revenge thriller The Killer, a biopic about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad titled Nyad, and a scandalous drama starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore called May December and Rustin, which tells the story of Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.
Regarding the “spray and pray” approach of releasing a wave of content, Stuber said the tactic was part of Netflix finding its footing as a new production studio.
“We were growing a new studio. We’d only been doing this for a few years, and we were up against 100-year-old companies,” said Stuber, according to Variety. “So you have to ask yourself, ‘What is your business model? And for a while it was just making sure that we had enough. We needed volume.”
Netflix passed on several projects this year, including Masters of the Universe, based on a children’s toy, which the platform once considered franchise material. It also backed out of a romantic comedy by director Nancy Meyers called It’s Complicated when the budget reached $130 million. The studio also passed on a reboot of The Exorcist from Blumhouse and Matthew Vaughn’s action adventure Argyle (which will air on Apple TV+ after hitting theaters).
Although Netflix has seen great success with series like Stranger Things, Squid Games, and Mike Flanagan’s numerous anthology series, including The Haunting of Hill House, the studio hasn’t seen the same fanfare with its films, a pattern Stuber wants to change.