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Netflix's new strategy: Bigger, Fewer, Better, but not $175 million "vanity projects" (no more Irishman)

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The Scott Stuber-run division is adjusting to a new set of realities as it readies a $200 million-plus ‘The Gray Man’ from the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ helmers and a pricey set of ‘Knives Out’ sequels.



“Small movies are not going to go away,” says one insider, but they could become more niche and cater to a passionate audience. Another insider concurs, saying the output will be reduced, lessening the need for so many execs. “They were overstaffed with executives,” says this insider. Also, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more $150 million movies. Expect to a see a more subtle change — instead of making two movies for $10 million, as an example, the company will make one for $20 million. “The goal will be to make the best version of something instead of cheapening out for the sake of quantity,” says one insider. And the streamer remains in the acquisitions game, as evidenced by the recent $50 million-plus deal for the Emily Blunt thriller Pain Hustlers.


On Netflix’s earnings call, Sarandos pointed to “big event films” like The Gray Man and Knives Out 2 as a way of driving sub growth. Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in a $200 million-plus budgeted film directed by Avengers: Endgame duo Anthony and Joe Russo, will hit select theaters July 15 before bowing on the service July 22. Meanwhile, Knives Out 2 — the next chapter of the whodunit franchise from director Rian Johnson and star Daniel Craig, for which Netflix hammered out a $469 million deal in March 2021 — is set to bow in the fourth quarter of this year. “The upcoming slate in ’22, we’re confident, is better and more impactful than it was in ’21,” Sarandos noted to analysts on the April call.


Animation is also under scrutiny, with a disciplined ax taken to projects that were on the bubble and the frequency of releases also being diminished, although a “new movie every week” is still the goal, be it live action or animation.



One thing many agree on is that the era of expensive vanity projects at Netflix, whether animation or live action (like Martin Scorsese’s $175 million The Irishman), is likely over. “This tendency to do anything to attract talent and giving them carte blanche is going away,” says one person. As always, there will be exceptions — this is Hollywood, after all — but in essence, this new era seems to be marked by one idea: discipline.



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2 hours ago, Derek said:

I haven't seen it, but The Irishman cost 175 million dollars?!


1 hour ago, Jason said:


Probably mostly actor salaries? 


There's that, but The Irishman actually pushed a lot of boundaries in CGI and deep fake technology. Almost never in that movie are you seeing the actual faces of any of the actors, it's mostly CGI replaced heads. They developed new techniques like using infrared cameras instead of motion capture tracking balls with a 3 or 4 camera rig that could do a basic live render of the product during filming.


At least I assume that's a big reason why the movie cost so much.

  • True 1
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