Scott Stuber, who pushed Netflix to expand into blockbuster movie territory, is stepping down from the streaming service’s top film job to form his own media company.
Stuber will remain with the streamer until March, at which point Netflix CCO Bela Bajaria will temporarily assume his role while she searches for a replacement. Bloomberg first reported the news.
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Under Stuber’s direction, Netflix’s feature business aggressively entered the blockbuster space, courting filmmakers such as Zack Snyder, the Russo brothers, Michael Bay and Rawson Marshall Thurber. The era began with the Will Smith starrer Bright, the 2017 film that had a reported budget of $90 million, a hefty number that turned heads at the time but would soon look quaint compared to what was to come.
Red Notice, starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, cost somewhere in the $250 million to $300 million range, while the Russo’ Gray Man cost in the $200 million range. Netflix also shelled out $469 million for two Knives Out sequels from Rian Johnson, while it gave Snyder a $165 million budget (and likely more) for his two-part Rebel Moon films.
While the budgets were hefty, and Netflix’s self-reported numbers deemed them hits, many of the films were dinged by critics.
Other films made under his tenure were critical successes that transformed into awards contenders, including Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. In 2020, 2021 and 2022, Netflix was the most nominated studio at the Oscars.
In a statement, Stuber thanked Netflix chairman Reed Hastings, co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters, and Bajaria.
“Seven years ago, Reed and Ted offered me the amazing opportunity to join Netflix and create a new home for original movies,” said Stuber. “I am proud of what we accomplished and am so grateful to all the filmmakers and talent who trusted us to help tell their stories. Thank you to Ted, Reed, Greg, Bela and the entire team, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”
At the top of 2021, Netflix touted “one new movie every week” with a slate of some 70 features. That announcement came as the company was looking to bulk up its own originals library as other studios launched their respective streamers. In the following years, the streamer has pulled back on original film (though its output is still prolific).
Sarandos said in a statement that Stuber “helped lead the new paradigm of how movies are made, distributed and watched.
“He attracted unbelievable creative talent to Netflix, making us a premiere film studio,” he continued. “Under his leadership, we’ve become the most nominated studio for three years in a row at the Academy Awards — eight best picture nominations, two best international feature Oscars, two best documentary feature Oscars and our first best animated feature Oscar. Scott, thank you for your leadership and friendship and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Added Bajaria: “What Scott has accomplished in seven years is nothing short of amazing. He created a world-class film studio, not only by working with established filmmakers, but also finding and supporting first-time creators. He’s been such a trusted partner and friend to me and many others, and I hope to find new ways to continue to work together.”
Stuber’s departure has long been rumored; the executive is known to have chafed against the company’s restraints on theatrical releases as well the sometime prodigious output. And it comes after a larger, longer series of exits in the streamer’s film division.
Less than a year ago, Lisa Nishimura, who was Netflix’s vp independent film and documentary features, abruptly departed the company. Overseeing doc, Nishimura helped the streamer win its first Oscars, while on the narrative side she oversaw Netflix’s efforts in everything from filmmaker-driven features (Power of the Dog) to YA and rom-com entries (A Christmas Prince). Ian Bricke, vp original film, also left at the time and was known for pioneering Netflix’s rom-com dominance, with the exec championing projects like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the Kissing Booth films. At the time, all live-action film was folded under Kira Goldberg, Ori Marmur and Niija Kuykendall.
Stuber took the job heading global features for Netflix in 2017. At the time, the longtime Universal exec left his Bluegrass Films label, which he started with partner Dylan Clark. While at Universal, he worked on projects including best picture winner A Beautiful Mind, Meet the Parents, the Bourne franchise and the Fast & Furious franchise.
— Borys Kit contributed to this report.
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