Netflix cutting back on film production

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‘Less is more’ seems to be the mantra at Netflix film production these days, marking a clear departure from the ‘one film a week’ policy it used to strive for.

Netflix’s Head of Film Production, Scott Stuber, has been chatting about lots of the streaming platform’s upcoming films of late, including Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Narnia films and Noah Baumbach’s next project.

While speaking with Variety, Stuber offered an update on several more high-profile projects, but in doing so let slip that on the whole, Netflix’s strategy for film production is markedly different than it used to be.

Back in 2021, the company was loudly trumpeting that there would be a new film launching on its service every single week but given that so many of those movies came and went without making much cultural impact, that approach seems to have been shelved – and Netflix is now focusing more on quality over quantity.

By Stuber’s own admission, lots of those films were underwhelming, and he states that the decision to go for volume “was a reaction to the competition. How do we make sure that our consumer who’s used to a lot feels like there’s a lot? It was difficult. And as I’ve said many a time, there are not 70 great ideas on the planet for a movie. So it really was like, ‘OK, let’s get back to a place’.”

That ‘place’ means fewer films that will make more of an impact, it seems.

“So to me,” added Stuber, “I don’t want a prescriptive number anymore. I really want what is the best version of that… but perception is really in the reality of what that is. So it could be a teen comedy. If it’s a teen comedy, make Superbad, make American Pie, make the best version of that thing I’ve ever seen. If it’s a drama, make Boogie Nights, make Goodfellas.”

Separately, Stuber was quizzed about the status of several of Netflix’s higher-profile film projects and revealed that he’s waiting to see scripts for BioShock, Gears Of War, another Knives Out sequel and follow-ups for Red Notice and Extraction. He seemed a little less sure about whether a sequel to The Gray Man would happen.

‘Less is more’ certainly sounds like a good idea to us given that Netflix has come in for justified criticism over the past couple of years regarding the quality of its film division’s output. Still, we hope that this shift to what is thought to be 25 to 30 films per year means there’s substantially more in the pipeline than a concentration of action movies, as the list above largely indicates.

A quick look at Netflix’s 2024 slate is heavy on action, sci-fi and comedy but there’s a distinct lack of prestige drama. With the actors’ strike now over, we’ll bring you any updates to Netflix’s film slate as we hear them.

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