Siena Yates

The New Zealand Herald - - ENTERTAINMENT -

A time when bigscreen, stu­dio films will make smallscreen de­buts.

orig­i­nal films, all in 2018.

Just yes­ter­day, the stream­ing giant poached Ryan Mur­phy ( Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story, Feud, Glee, Nip/Tuck) away from 20th Cen­tury Fox TV in a mas­sive $400 mil­lion deal.

This is af­ter they poached Shonda Rhimes ( Grey’s Anatomy, Scan­dal) from ABC and while they’re al­ready nail­ing TV any­way — Stranger Things, Glow, Or­ange is the New Black, House of Cards, The Crown, Nar­cos, the list goes on.

And while they used to fo­cus their movie ef­forts on ac­quir­ing pres­tige films from fes­ti­vals and cre­at­ing orig­i­nal con­tent, Net­flix have now switched tac­tics and started buy­ing up a storm from ma­jor stu­dios.

Last year, Net­flix made its first ac­qui­si­tion, buy­ing comic com­pany Mil­lar­world ( Kick Ass, Kings­man) in a move to­ward cre­at­ing its own su­per­hero uni­verse. Mil­lar­world’s founder is a for­mer Mar­vel comic de­vel­oper and a cre­ative con­sul­tant for 20th Cen­tury Fox ( X-Men, Dead­pool).

They then bought JJ Abrams’ Clover­field Para­dox from Para­mount and de­buted it af­ter the Su­per Bowl, to al­most im­pres­sively neg­a­tive re­views. But you know who doesn’t care about re­views? Net­flix. That Go­daw­ful Will Smith film Bright got hor­rific re­views too, but it also be­came one of Net­flix’s most­watched ti­tles.

And now ma­jor stu­dios know Net­flix is in the mar­ket for things they’re not that into, they’re jump­ing on the band­wagon; Uni­ver­sal’s al­ready sold them its alien film Ex­tinc­tion and more are sure to fol­low.

Yeah, they’re mid-bud­get, b-grade, sci-fi films but if any­one knows how to make those things work, it’s Net­flix (the home of can­celled 90s sit­coms and Adam San­dler films).

And let’s not for­get that some­times stu­dios are wrong. Net­flix also just nabbed the new Natalie Port­man film An­ni­hi­la­tion from Para­mount af­ter they got scared we, the au­di­ence, would be too stupid to get it. It’s since been hailed as a “mas­ter­piece” and a “new sci-fi clas­sic”, so who’s the fool now, Para­mount?

All this is to say: We’re right on the cusp of a time when big-screen, stu­dio films will make small-screen de­buts and not in a straight-to-DVD kind of way.

If Net­flix car­ries on the way it is and other stream­ing ser­vices fol­low suit, which is likely — who knows? We could be watch­ing the next su­per­hero block­buster or Os­car-win­ner on re­lease day from the com­fort of our own homes.

There’s just one prob­lem though: Movies are made for cin­ema. Noth­ing is as funny, scary, tear-jerk­ing or in­tense at home as it is in the cin­ema. Films like Dunkirk and Baby Driver sim­ply don’t trans­late off the big screen, films like the Black Pan­ther don’t hit as hard, and films like Lady Bird don’t res­onate as much when you’re on your couch, prob­a­bly with phone in hand.

Net­flix has al­ready pretty much killed TV as we used to know it, so is tra­di­tional cin­ema next on its hit list? Prob­a­bly. And Net­flix has the mus­cle to pull it off and make it look like an ac­ci­dent. The ques­tion is: do we want them to?

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