Long live the new flesh indeed.
It’s been a few years since I previously wrote about Netflix and their original content. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, it feels like an entire lifetime ago.
At that time, David Ayer directing a Max Landis script starring Joel Edgerton and Will Smith sounded massive. It wasn’t, and it isn’t, definitely not anymore. If a film could bomb on a streaming service, then Bright did exactly that. Somehow that never stopped them or even slowed them down. In 2017, Netflix released films by Bong Joon-Ho (Okja), Noah Baumbach (The Meyeroritz Stories), and even Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game). That line-up is fairly substantial but they continue as 2018 had films by Alex Garland, Duncan Jones, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron. Not to mention finally allowing the world to see Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, allowing us to watch the film almost 50 years after principal photography. Also another passion project by Martin Scorsese, The Irishman which will be released in 2019.
I can sit here and list the names of the great talent they’ve enlisted, but even while they tried to previously change the distribution game, it seems it may have backfired.
As I previously mentioned, Netflix got well-known directors such as Bong Joon-Ho and Noah Baumbach films of their own and they premiered at the Cannes film festival. They were soon pulled out of competition at the prestigious festival because they decided to look down on the films and treat them as less so. When the films played at the festival, the audience booed at the screen as the Netflix logo appeared on the screen. The films weren’t looked at as real films, which couldn’t be more false, even if the Academy chooses not to support them.
The Academy’s requirements can be simple, it needs to play during the previous calendar year (Jan 1st – Dec 31st) and it must play for 7 days in a row. This is not possible with Netflix’s model. So they’ve revamped and are attempting to screen their films. In Toronto, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is constantly showing films from Netflix. Most recently, Cuaron’s Roma and even the Coen’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It opens with the logo as a reminder that it can be viewed in the comfort of our own home.
But nothing can ever beat the feeling of the big screen with the sound to match. As most streaming services attempting and to get original programming, YouTube famously picked up Bodied (an Eminem produced rap battle film) when everyone else was too scared to do so.
It’s a great film but it 100 percent relies on being aware of the battle rap community. Or at least an appreciation of it. Without the cheering of cameo’s or the audible reactions to the spat bars, it falls flat a little bit. The film works so well because of the environment, it makes feel as if you’re in the crowd watching the raps play out on a stage less than 10 feet away from you.
Netflix’s model is very much based around the comfort of your own couch. The way they brought binge-watching to the forefront of society, it now might be asking some of us to leave that comfort and spend more money on their films on the big screen. I highly recommend doing what they ask of us, within reason.
They are reportedly 20 billion dollars in debt but they aren’t in trouble. They have become a verb, and popular in our lexicon just as Google did prior and possibly faster than Google had. They’ve spent all that money on original content to that they can aim to 50 percent original programming. And they’ve been planning for this for years. In 2015, they already imagined and pictured Disney and others to start their own services. Yes, losing all or most of their content is a massive loss, but Netflix is thriving. With new TV shows and movies every week, this writer can’t even attempt to keep up, and this is just the start of it. There is so much they have in store for us.
I’ll be here waiting for Taika Waititi’s Bubbles and Del Toro’s Pinocchio and newly announced, Zack Synder’s return to the big (or small) screen, Army of the Dead. In the meanwhile, I’ll be staying home watching The Office. Again. Or waiting for Space Force.
P.S. please don’t lose The Office.