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Before 2018, Netflix made a bold statement. The streaming provider intended the year to be one of their biggest, with 80 original films as a goal for greatness. Not only was this goal met, but with a strategy that mixes acquisitions of already completed projects along with the originals that Netflix produced themselves, the company exceeded its wildest dreams. You could say that 2018 has been the year of Netflix, and the following films are all proof that the film industry has been changed because of the hard work the company has done to diversify the library of originals.
The Cloverfield Paradox
At the beginning of the year, The Cloverfield Paradox didn't have a title, a release date, or even a concrete plan for unveiling itself to the world. Out of nowhere, the rumors that Netflix had acquired the completed film, previously known as God Particle, lead to an ad campaign and release strategy that totally changed the game. Not only did The Cloverfield Paradox advertise its release with a stealth Super Bowl ad, but the company dropped the film right after the big game. With this big move, Netflix proved that not only could a film be kept secret until the very last moment, but that their surprise release scheduling would work like gangbusters for highly anticipated films and TV shows.
Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle
Also a major studio acquisition, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle saw Warner Bros teaming up with Netflix to distribute a film that might not have made it in the wild. Director Andy Serkis' more mature adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Mowgli had been talked about since Disney's newer live-action version went into production around the same time. If the studio had followed the original plan, the film would have been released theatrically at the beginning of October. But, thanks to an assist from Netflix, what could have been a box office loss for Warner Bros became a quick release for the beginning of Netflix's December portfolio.
Not every major studio release that Netflix touches has to skip the theaters. In another partnership with Paramount Pictures, the studio offered a very strategic boost to Alex Garland's mind bending sci-fi thriller. Rather than totally take over the film's distribution, Annihilation found itself on its theatrical release track domestically, with the international piece of the pie going to Netflix shortly after. With this same release strategy planned for this year's Shaft sequel, a studio can offset their production costs, play the odds for theatrical success, and find themselves reaching a much larger audience much faster.
While Netflix does already have an Oscar, courtesy of last year's documentary Icarus, you can bet that the content provider still wants to keep their edge when it comes to awards glory. They just might have it in 2019, as the prestige season has seen Alfonso Cuaron's Roma go from a promising original to their first narrative triumph that's been bandied about as an awards player. The critical acclaim that's been building around the film has not only put Netflix in the mouths of film professionals far and wide in this year's road to the Oscars, but it's shown that the studio is truly a power player in the industry, ready to scrap for the next big thing from impressive directors such as Cuaron.
To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Another way Netflix diversified its film portfolio in 2018 is by the way of various projects aimed at the ever important teen rom-com audience. The film adaptation of Jenny Han's book of the same name not only saw some pretty impressive reviews surface in its favor, it also saw the internet totally take to it like a heartsick teen pines over that one special crush. With such a strong response, and Netflix finding a new way to promote their films more heavily through the approval of internet culture, it's no surprise this film already has a sequel in the works.
The Christmas Chronicles
Holiday movies have become a bit of a cottage industry, through various networks and distributors. Never one to turn away from a trend, Netflix dipped their toes into the market themselves, and The Christmas Chronicles was one of their biggest successes in 2018. A wildly successful Christmas movie that proved Kurt Russell's still got it, this holiday hit just might become a yearly tradition for the millions of folks that watched it this past season. Not to mention, the immediate success allegedly translated into a $200 million opening week, which has the industry scrambling to replicate that sort of success, as well as stats geeks trying to gin up a formula for how popular any Netflix film is at any given time. But, above all else, The Christmas Chronicles has proven that Kurt Russell's Santa is, 100%, a daddy.
The Other Side Of The Wind
If it wasn't for Netflix, we'd never have gotten Orson Welles' legendary final film, The Other Side of the Wind. A film that sat on the shelves for several decades, a failed Kickstarter push was once the only hope the world ever had of seeing this tale of filmmaking and mortality hit a screen of any size. But once Netflix jumped into the fray, the long-awaited editing process was completed, and The Other Side of the Wind was born. While the company has its fingers on the pulse of what's modern and meme-worth, this project shows just how experimental Netflix truly is, while at the same time paying its dues to the Hollywood greats that came before it.
Much like Orson Welles' unique visions in the past, there are auteurs in the film industry that need a home for their elusive visions. Director Duncan Jones had been working on Mute for so long, it was technically supposed to be his first film. But over time, life got in the way, and Moon and Warcraft took priority in Jones' production slate. Through the whole time, Mute was sitting there, waiting to be brought to life. Lo and behold, Netflix rescued another project from the ether, and gave life to long planned film to light. While the indie scene that created Moon is not as strong as it used to be, the streaming giant gave Duncan Jones the opportunity to bring his sci-fi noir mystery to life in the way that only he could, without any limitations.
There's a chance that, should Apostle have been released by a major studio, it would have run into just as massive controversies. A film tackling humanity, religious zealotry, and the treatment of the environment, it would have challenged some, while pissing off others. No major studio would have picked Gareth Evans' film up, and even the indie studios operating today would have had trouble offering a budget without some sort of concessions. But the way things turned out, Netflix provided a home for the film that existed against the odds, allowing Apostle to make a spooky splash just in time for Halloween. Judging by what made it onto the screen, it looks like the full monty made it into the final product.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Initially, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was supposed to be a marvel for the fact that it would have brought the Coen Bros to the realm of TV for the first time. For a while, the world expected it to arrive in such a fashion. However, like a bolt out of the blue, Netflix announced that the anthology of western flavored stories would be converted into a film, changing the plan completely as to how these stories would be enjoyed. Most other distributors probably would blanch at the idea, but with their feet in both the worlds of TV and movies, the switch was easy both in terms of strategy and in the actual distribution of the film. As a sort of "all in one" production house, Netflix has the latitude to do such things, as they pretty much market it all the same way, and direct everyone to their portal to enjoy.