How Stephen Amell’s Code 8 Went From Indie Underdog To One Of Netflix's Most Popular Movies

Code 8 the crew stands around the plans

While isolation has led to the postponement of various films and television shows set to be released in 2020, there’s been a lot of room for indie projects to thrive in the vacuum. Recently, it seems that a lot of these types of movies, like the sci-fi thriller Code 8, starring Robbie & Stephen Amell, have gotten to have their day in the sun as huge hits on Netflix.

But the road to this film’s fame started with an Indigogo campaign and a short movie that built the foundation for it all to take off. Not only did the Amell cousins act as producers and co-stars in director Jeff Chan’s ambitious project involving a revolution of the superpowered, but Code 8 also had a pretty exciting path that just kept climbing upward.

Robbie Amell reflected on this through his Twitter account when the film went to #1 on Netflix's top 10 feature, as he recalled these steps Code 8 followed into online stardom:

In honor of Code 8’s huge and warm welcome to Netflix’s streaming library, let’s take a look at how it all happened, starting with the beginning.

Code 8 Begins As A Short Film With Robbie & Stephen Amell Involved

Back in the summer of 2015, Robbie & Stephen Amell teamed up with Jeff Chan to produce a 10-minute short film that would be the basis for Code 8. The film co-starred Fast Saga fan-favorite Sung Kang and imagined a world where superpowers were not only a naturally occurring thing, but were the subject of compulsory registration. But a very familiar story was about to get a new lease on life.

The short went viral on the internet, and sure enough the plan went into Phase 2. Now that Chan and the Amell cousins had proven the world was ready for Code 8, it was time to make a movie.

An Indiegogo Campaign Raises $2.5 Million To Put Code 8 Into Production

The next step for Code 8 was to head to Indiegogo in order to secure funds. There, Robbie Amell would post a campaign that was looking to raise $200,000 to produce the feature-length version of the film.

By the time it was all was said and done, $2.5 million had raised by over 30,000 backers who were passionate seeing the movie come to life. Code 8 was shot through 2017, in Toronto, Ontario and would be shown at backer exclusive screenings and film festivals in 2019.

By The End Of 2019, Code 8 Hits The Big Screen And VOD

With the hype machine firmly in place and a distribution deal secured from indie studio XYZ Films, Code 8 made its grand debut on December 13, 2019, in a limited theatrical and VOD release. The movie had grossed roughly $150,298 to its credit, but its best days would come in the months that followed.

One could even say that with the internet fanbase and cadre of Indiegogo backers at its side, Code 8’s greatest success was bound to happen, and it would only take four short months to arrive.

Netflix Debuts Code 8 To Huge Success

The final brick in the path to Code 8’s staggering success came on April 11th, 2020 when the film was debuted among the various titles to come online this past month. By April 13th, the film was #1 on the Trending Now tab, with its current standings keeping the film in the top 10 at #8.

As it has for films that have found their fortunes on Netflix, the section of trending titles helped raise awareness for a film that might not have otherwise gotten it. And with Code 8 getting a series pickup from the hot new streaming platform Quibi before this big Netflix debut even happened, it looks like Robbie & Stephen Amell won’t be leaving this superpowered world any time soon.

Sometimes, everything just falls into place with a movie like Code 8. What started as a short film made out of love (with the help of fans, friends, and family) has now turned into a potential franchise. There’s no telling where things could go should the Quibi series hit as well as the feature film did on Netflix. Still, there’s absolutely no doubt that without the people who stuck with it from the beginning, none of this would have happened.

Code 8 is currently available on Netflix, while the original short is still available on YouTube.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.