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Do you ever just endlessly scroll through Netflix and think “Wait…how?” The streaming services produces so much original content each week, along with having the rights to favorites such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Office (for now anyway!), it’s overwhelming. Well it looks like the company isn’t completely made out of money after all!
Netflix will reportedly be cutting down on risky big-budget projects from now on after “flops” like Triple Frontier, according to The Information (via Playlist). Content chief Ted Sarandos apparently told film and television executives that Netflix is going to be more frugal on jumping to high production value, unless it guarantees an investment for the site.
The early 2019 action heist starring Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Issac and Pedro Pascal was named as a prime example. One month after Triple Frontier dropped on Netflix, the company said it was viewed by 52 million households, translating to a blockbuster for the film if you add the average $10 price tag subscribers pay. But since the film had a $115 million production budget, it may not have proved worth it.
By comparison, Netflix’s holiday hit Bird Box set a record for the company when it was viewed by 80 million households in a month. The streaming service’s latest comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler was watched by 31 million accounts in a matter of three days! Ok, so Triple Frontier didn’t quite make these waves.
This report doesn’t quite mean Netflix is turning into Scrooge, just more strategic with where and how it spends money. Some of the streamer's big-budget projects, such as the upcoming costly The Witcher series starring Henry Cavill, could bring in high viewership. The company has also recently invested in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman; George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight; and The Division, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.
Netflix doesn’t necessarily have to throw bags of money at all of its projects in order for them all to be successful. Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma was produced on $15 million budget and opened new doors for the company. Roma was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three, beginning conversations about the place streaming services can have in awards season.
Netflix doesn’t regularly release viewership numbers on its content, so it’s tough for us to really have a true scope of how many views is considered a success for the site and what movies and television shows are a flop.
Perhaps the only gauge we have is through its buzz through word of mouth and social media. Considering everyone was talking about binge-ing into Stranger Things 3 over the holiday, it’s safe to guess it was another home run for the site, along with Ali Wong’s recent rom-com Always Be My Maybe.
As of the beginning of 2019, the site had 139 million subscribers, translating to over 1.4 billion in earnings a month. Looks like Netflix is just being smarter about where it puts its money.