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Why Netflix Is Trying To Push Hard Into The Movie Space

Brad Pitt in Netflix's war machine movie

Movies and television have always been at odds with one another, with varying lengths, fanbases and goals. Netflix is one of those providers that has its toes in both ponds. According to chief content officer Ted Sarandos, the movies side of the house is just as important in the company's plans for entertainment domination, and Netflix is going to continue to ramp up production of original movies. Although research the company has done indicates that 70% of Netflix users use the service to binge TV, the company has also found that users tend to hop over to a movie after binge-watching a TV series. So, it's easy to see why Netflix might push hard to jump into the movie space.

There's clearly a demand for movie content on Netflix, and Ted Sarandos said in a recent interview that the company is trying to expand into the space with big budget movies like War Machine and Bright. He also elaborated on why movies are so important, noting,

The reason why we're doing this is I really think no matter how great TV gets, people do distinguish the art forms differently.

While on the outset it might seem like Netflix originals including Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones are kicking the hell out of longform films at the company, it's clear Netflix has information to support the fact that there's still an itch in the movie realm that needs to be scratched. It should be noted that this is despite the fact that in terms of awards wins and festival appearances in the outside world, the TV side has earned a warmer reputation.

All you need to do is look at the reaction of the Cannes Film Festival to Okja, or look at the several instances of Netflix clashing with the theatrical exhibition market, and you'll see the road's definitely been bumpier on the side of the movies. Still, the traditional theatrical market hasn't done itself any favors, at least when it comes to 2017's underwhelming results through what could have been a strong summer competition. So while exhibitors may be wary of experiments in same day / smaller window releases, Netflix could provide them with the content they need, and perhaps the revolution that they could use, to keep them in the game for longer. Netflix isn't making it a secret that it wants to increase its brand through films as well as TV shows, and it's clear which market has been more accessible.

It's really a shame too, as Netflix has made waves wheeling and dealing to nab films like War Machine, or I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, that either wouldn't find footing in the typical studio space, or in the case of the latter film, were lucky purchases. The company's intent of not so much conquering, but rather becoming a part of the Hollywood experience is only a natural extension of the brand, something that could makes more folks really want that Netflix experience. But again, the TV side of the house seems to be the bigger yield, or at least the more secure one, when it comes to the sort of scenario Ted Sarandos spoke with Variety about. However, it's also clear that users dabble in both sides.

Sure, the films of Netflix still manage to drum up interest, but with the company's own Marvel shows, such as The Defenders and the forthcoming Punisher series, as well as old standbys like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, the attention that the world has paid Netflix has mostly been lasered in on episodic content. Maybe with a couple of solid wide releases in the theatrical market, that could all change.

Should Netflix find a path it can accept, the streaming giant's transition into a filmmaking powerhouse could be imminent. All the company has to do is look at the lessons it has learned on the smaller screen, and apply them to a larger format. If Netflix can achieve that, it may reach its goal of providing something for everybody. It's a good point to keep in mind, as the content provider is gearing up to release Little Evil this Friday.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.