Bigger, Fewer, Better – The Hollywood Reporter

Bigger, better, less.that’s the chorus Netflix Film executives led by department heads Scott Staberas the digital streaming giant changes direction and faces new realities such as lagging subscriber growth (losing 200,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter) and increasing competition (Disney’s Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle now has 205 million subscribers), they are struggling to cope with combined, second only to Netflix’s 221 million global subscribers).

hollywood reporter Talks to multiple sources, from executives to producers to agency-linked agencies, paint a picture of a streaming giant trying to regain its mojo following its shocking earnings reveal on April 19 (Netflix has lost 44% of its value since that day). “Morale is stuck at inventory levels,” one executive said half-jokingly. Given the changes, another executive described the mood within Netflix as a “distraction.”

It’s easy to see why. The company has responded to Wall Street with cost-cutting measures such as laying off more than 150 employees, or 2% of its workforce. Televisions and the rest of the company were hit, but the focus was on the features segment. Much of the cuts have wiped out the home live-action division, as has the original indie feature division that produced films with budgets under $30 million.

As it moves forward, Netflix wants to focus on making bigger movies, making better movies, and releasing fewer movies at a faster rate than it was previously gluttonous. “Just a few years ago, we were trying to monetize the market with small art films,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told analysts on the company’s April earnings call. “Today, we’re releasing some of the most popular and most-watched films in the world. Just over the past few months, things like don’t look up and red notice and Adam Project,as an example. But what this “bigger, better, less” mandate means is unclear to anyone inside or outside the company.

“Small movies aren’t going away,” says one insider, but they may become more niche, catering to enthusiastic audiences. Another insider agreed, saying there would be less output, reducing the need for so many executives. “They have too many executives,” the person said. Also, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more $150 million movies. Expect to see a subtler change — instead of making two films for $10 million, for example, the company will make one for $20 million.”Our goal is to make the best product, not lower costs for volume,” says one insider. And streamers are still acquiring the game, as evidenced by the recent $50 million-plus deal Emily Blunt horror film pain liar.

On Netflix’s earnings call, Sarandos mentioned “big event movies,” such as grey man and Knife Out 2 as a way to drive secondary growth. grey manstarring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in a movie with a budget of over $200 million Avengers: Endgame duo Anthony and Joe Russo, will open in select theaters on July 15, before launching the service on July 22. at the same time, Knife Out 2 — The next chapter in the whodunit franchise from the director Rian Johnson and star Daniel CraigNetflix finalized a $469 million deal in March 2021 – which will launch in the fourth quarter of this year. “We are confident that the upcoming plan in ’22 will be better and more impactful than ’21,” Sarandos told analysts on a conference call in April.

Animation has also come under scrutiny, with a disciplined approach to projects in the bubble and less frequent releases, although “new movies every week” is still the goal, be it live-action or animation.

These moves are a far cry from a few years ago, when films costing more than $100 million or $150 million were rare. It was also at the time that Netflix was often cited by the media as the savior of mid-budget movies and once-dramatic films like romantic comedies and thrillers. forever my maybe, kissing booth and To all the boys I’ve ever loved became hits, made their actors social media stars, and even launched a mini-franchise.

The company isn’t giving too many specific directions right now, either. “Over the next few weeks, producers and directors will have conversations about scale and genre,” said one producer who was in a meeting with the book and eagerly awaiting insight. But it’s an uncertain time for the streaming giant, which could see more layoffs and possible executive exits, leaving some producers and agencies on their toes. “Is it convenient for me to send them packages now? No, I’m not,” said one partner. (Netflix Co-President Reed Hastings And not exactly to the head of film Stuber or head of TV Bella Bajalia When boosting confidence Maureen Doddin a New York Times contour Published on May 28, when asked about the possibility of top management staying put, he replied: “Well, the way we are organized, no one can make that assumption.”)

One thing many agree on is that the era of Netflix’s expensive vanity projects, whether animated or live-action (like Martin Scorsese$175 million Irishman), most likely over. “This tendency to unscrupulously attract talent and give them carte blanche is disappearing,” said one person. As always, there will be exceptions — this is Hollywood, after all — but at its core, this new era seems to be marked by one philosophy: discipline.

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Source: Nielsen Streaming Rankings, August 2020-April 2022; THR Research

This story first appeared in the June 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.