Before the summer ends Netflix will have released more than 100 original films in 2021; approximately 20% will be documentaries, the rest are new fiction feature films produced or acquired exclusively by the platform.
It is a tremendous figure, the result of the stratospheric growth in the number of feature films produced annually by the company since in 2015 they launched into the creation of their own content for their platform.
Much has changed in a five-year period: the streaming ecosystem, today the fiercest battlefield in the audiovisual business, is organized around the acquisition and retention of new subscribers. Purpose for which Netflix, and other thriving platforms such as Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. they are firmly committed to the production and launch of new content in the face of the audience.
Plans Paramount+ for 2022 they mean releasing a new movie a week; It sounds crazy, but Netflix today exceeds that rate. The question is what type of films are released within a dynamic where quantity and novelty (or, at least, their appearance within closed lanes of brand identification and recognition) seem to be characteristics much more valued than quality.
Streams of indifference
A study commissioned by The Wall Street Journal and published this week affirms that Netflix is the studio that currently produces the most movies in all of Hollywood. But in the traditional balance between quantity and quality, the Los Gatos company does not do very well in the metrics used by Ampere Analysis: on the one hand, critical evaluations from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes; on the other, public evaluations based on various online opinion aggregators.
The conclusions are quite striking (a 5.4 / 10 average score among critics, 5.9 / 10 among the public) for a study that has produced such acclaimed filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Alfonso Cuarón, Bong Joon-ho, Noah Baumbach or the brothers Coen.
However, there is other data that may be more worrying than the final result of Netflix bets. For example, the ease with which audiences seem to forget about their movies and move on to something else. That blurred boundary between what is a movie and any video content; the devaluation of cinematographic art that so much worries Scorsese.
According to the results of Ampere Analysis, not a single of the own titles released by Netflix between January 2016 and March 2020 remained in the public conversation five months after its premiere.
In the graph with the percentages of films that remained in the collective imagination, the productions of Disney, the studio that has reduced its total number of films the most to focus on those related to sagas and properties (Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, his own animation classics) precisely already consolidated among the public. In this case, the weird thing would be if five months went by without people mentioning things from the Marvel Universe or from Star Wars.
A Netflix without franchises
Although it is still not related to quality (at the time there was a lot of talk about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but nothing good), this data may be essential if Netflix wants its most commercial bets to be able to remain long enough in the public mind so that its possible sequels, spin-offs, shared universes and forms of exploitation common in the Hollywood of the franchises are considered attractive enough to attract or retain subscribers.
On the other hand, all of Netflix’s attempts to go down the blockbuster route have come face to face with various walls of indifference, no matter how successful their premieres have been sold according to the platform’s criteria (that someone watches at least two minutes of the footage).
Bright, Blind, Spenser: Confidential, Tyler Rake, The Old Guard O Army of the dead are some of the latest great Netflix blockbusters designed to generate their own sequels. Many times, with sequels announced by the platform itself. Good luck to anyone who remembers by now Bright. Solo Tyler Rake Y Army of the dead seem on track to continue replicating themselves, just like the sequel to Enola Holmes, but perhaps it is only because we are closer to its premiere.
Therefore, the ability to penetrate the collective imagination is not something that exclusively affects prestigious projects such as Rome, The Irishman, Story of a marriage O I am thinking of quitting. You can imagine that in the platform plans that someone wants to subscribe because they have On the other side of the wind from Orson Welles, or fundamental films by directors such as Tamara Jenkins, Jeremy Saulnier O Steven Soderbergh, be a footnote; but the footprint of his great productions surely deserves more consideration on his part.
If not, the Netflix image will remain, as some of the creators who have passed through their offices have recently regretted as Kenya Barris (Black-ish), indistinguishable from a traditional television channel that viewers plug in to see what’s new at the time, and immediately forget about it. Linked to nothing but indifference. And, if that vanilla flavor saturation continues to attract subscribers, it will continue to do so.