Netflix has made it big in the world of high-quality television series and has proven to be a tough competitor for established networks. And now, it made a giant move into feature films with the release of Beasts of No Nation this past weekend on its streaming service and in a small number of theaters simultaneously.
Netflix taking a different route
Netflix’s move suggests that the firm is adopting a different approach by making movies that studios do not make any longer, says a report from The Wall Street Journal. Beasts of No Nation, which is an African war drama about a child soldier starring Idris Elba, was unable to find a studio home initially. It was produced with independent financing, and soon after this, Netflix spent $12 million to acquire the worldwide rights to the drama. This amount was double its production budget, says the report.
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According to Jonathan King, an executive vice president at co-financier Participant Media, other distributors did express interest in acquiring the rights to the drama, but the financial offer from Netflix was far more compelling. The streaming firm with 69 million global subscribers also gives a greater audience to the film.
Movies like Jurassic World and Avengers are the focus of major studios, which are cutting back on everything else. But the entry of Netflix and its arch-rival Amazon signals a revival for prestige dramas and mid-budget star vehicles. “For Netflix to be a real player and support this kind of very ambitious movie at a time when it’s getting tougher, that’s a big deal,” King said.
Will the strategy hold long term?
Owing to the decision of major exhibition chains not to play movies available for watching at home, Beasts was released in only 31 theaters in the U.S. The movie grossed just $50,699, indicating that very few subscribers are willing to spend money on buying tickets to a film that they can watch at home at no extra cost.
Making Beasts of No Nation eligible for Academy Awards was simply one of Netflix’s goals, and this is the reason the company needed to release it in some theaters. After Beasts, Netflix’s other movies include a quartet of comedies starring Adam Sandler, a political film with Brad Pitt, a satire from director Christopher Guest and a sequel to martial arts movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.