Original content is a key part of the strategy of every major streaming platform, and while Netflix movies come and go, the platform has certainly been the king when it comes to the sheer volume. It seems like there’s a new movie project being released on the streamer almost weekly, but when you have that much content it’s not all going to be stellar and, over time, it certainly hasn’t been. Following many of Netflix’s highest-profile films getting lukewarm (at best) responses, it seems the streamer is shifting to a quality-over-quantity strategy.
Scott Stuber, the head of Netflix’s film division, said that while the platform was very intentionally producing a lot of movies previously because the feeling was that Netflix “needed volume” that period of growth is over. Going forward, Netflix plans to release fewer movies, but it hopes to see the quality of those films increase significantly. Stuberrecently told Variety:
Right now, we’re not trying to hit a set number of film releases. It’s about ‘Let’s make what we believe in. 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.’
While not specifically stated, the idea that the focus is now on a slate that Netflix “can stand behind” implies that they did release movies previously where that may not have been the case. And to be honest it would be pretty hard for Netflix to honestly say that considering the massive number of projects that were released.
While many of Netflix’s films have been well-received, even Oscar-nominated, some of the best movies on Netflix are the ones it licenses, not the ones it makes. Crowd-pleasing movies like Red Notice (our review), which starred Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, and The Grey Man (our review) with Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, and Ryan Gosling, the studio’s version of box office blockbusters, haven’t been nearly as successful as their casts (and their budgets) were likely expecting. For another example, Gal Gadot's Heart of Stone was destroyed by critics. The movie had a lot of early buzz that lasted until it came out. Then the movie collapsed.
How many of these "better" movies we will get is far from clear, and will likely vary significantly over time. Even if we don’t get any more great Netflix movies than we’re currently getting, Netflix subscribers will likely prefer getting less original content, if there is confidence that said content is going to be good. People will be more likely to click on a new Netflix original movie sight unseen if there is an expectation it’s going to be good.
With awards season getting underway, the Netflix movie schedule is certainly packed with movies that could be great. And if Netflix succeeds in its new strategy, this could become the norm.