REPORT: Netflix Film Shifts Focus to Blockbusters, Marvel-like Movies

Netflix Film is still trying to find its niche in an ever-growing movie market, and will reportedly look to blockbuster-style projects to help their cause.

While the streaming giant is the reigning champion when it comes to television, their original films haven’t quite hit the same note with viewers, something that they’re hoping to change with a series of upcoming projects and a new strategy. Insiders at the company told The Hollywood Reporter that Scott Stuber, the former Universal executive who has been the chief of Netflix’s film division for nearly two years, is hoping to steer his division to be more selective with projects, though he is aware that the film unit currently has a reputation for taking on the discarded projects that other studios were throwing out the door.

The team is informing producers and agents that they want blockbusters: Movies as big as the hits churned out by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the Lord of the Rings franchise. They are also looking for prestigious projects that could be marketed for awards — a clear push to build their film division to the high standards of the TV side of the company. Netflix’s original TV shows have a whopping 112 Emmy nominations going into this fall’s award show, edging out HBO for the most nods from one network.

While Netflix has been working its way into spots once traditionally held by network and cable TV, both at award shows and in the hearts of viewers, the original films have not yet made their mark towards displacing the traditional studios. Stuber is working on changing that in the coming year with the release of the first group of projects that he put into motion. The high-profile projects include films from Ethan and Joel Coen (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Paul Greengrass (22 July) and a reconstructed version of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, which will all premiere at the Venice Film Festival later this month.

“They know they need to do what’s described as a watercooler movie,” said one studio producer, who has competed with Netflix. “It’s one of Scott’s priorities.”

It certainly seems to be in the forefront of Stuber’s mind, as he goes after A-list talent to build up the film division. Netflix has committed between $150-170 million for Michael Bay’s action movie Six Underground, and will pay around $30 million upfront to the film’s star, Ryan Reynolds. Another major project in the works for 2019 is a mob drama from Martin Scorsese entitled The Irishman, which is said to have a budget between $120-150 million. Director David Ayer and star Will Smith are also planning a follow-up to Bright, Netflix’s biggest film to date, which didn’t sit well with critics but was watched by 11 million viewers in its first three days.

While Stuber declined to comment for the article, it is reported that he is well aware that his next few moves are crucial when it comes to making a name for the film unit. In fact, one Oscar-nominated producer said, “In five years, with the movies Amazon, Apple and Netflix make, we will be looking at an entire new definition of what a movie is. This is a watershed moment for Netflix.”

And the streaming giant wouldn’t have it any other way.

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