Netflix’s head of film Scott Stuber has departed – and we’re likely looking at a shifting approach to film from the Silicon Valley company.
An interesting story has popped up at The Hollywood Reporter over the weekend which delves into the recent exit of Scott Stuber, Netflix’s departing head of film.
Scott Stuber is set to leave his post in March after seven years in the job, and according to the outlet, that will mark some changes in the way that Netflix operates.
While original film has never been the number one priority at Netflix, it’s being suggested that it may be slipping further down the pecking order: the report notes that Stuber’s departure comes within days of Netflix announcing a new $5bn deal with the sports entertainment company, WWE.
It’s likely that a deal of such magnitude will affect the company’s film budgeting and would have impacted Scott Stuber’s ability to competitively bid for in-demand projects.
Then there’s the theatrical distribution problem: the company’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos has repeatedly refused to countenance following fellow streamers such as Apple and Amazon into theatrical distribution, a process that is incredibly important to filmmakers and stars.
The report (via an unnamed source) states that ‘one veteran studio executive says that policy puts Netflix at a significant competitive disadvantage, as movies clearly have a greater impact when released in theatres … and filmmakers are tired of making movies for streaming that just go poof.’
Scott Stuber is said to be launching his own production company, while the report also offers a little insight into what the future of film may look like at Netflix.
Again, an unnamed insider is quoted, offering this take: ‘the studio will still put at least a couple of bets on pricey movies going forward’. Yet it’s also likely to veer to ‘middle-of-the-road programming… that’s where they think they want to go: lowest common denominator, broad filmmaking. The number of high-end filmmakers taking projects there will wane.”
The complaint regarding cinema being treated as the same as every other tile of ‘content’ on a streaming app is not a new one, but given Netflix’s refusal to grant films the prestige of a theatrical release, coupled with shrinking budgets and the report’s indication of a slide towards ‘lowest common denominator’ projects, it doesn’t make for pretty reading.
While Amazon is also name-checked above, at least that company is demonstrating some value for the theatrical space (unless the film in question happens to be Road House.)
Will cinema still have a worthy home at Netflix in five years or will it simply set next to the latest episode of WWE’s wrestling shows with little to distinguish the difference between the two? The full report is well worth a read, and you can catch it here.