Scott Studer was a movie producer who worked on titles like Ted and Safe House when he became the CEO of Netflix. His hiring prompted the company to push out a new agenda. They were going after the big fish. The filmmakers who were fed up with the studio system. They got Scorsese, they just got Spielberg and Amblin, and they've had people like Spike Lee, Jane Campion, Cari Fukanaga, David Fincher, and Alfonso Cuaron.
Stuber has seen Netflix succeed over and over again since he took over, and that's important. They've been building until now. Stuber says the entire motion picture industry is enduring a revolution at the moment. One that's going to change everything.
Recently, Stuber sat down with Variety to talk about these changes.
“The movie business is in a revolution,” he told them. “For all of us who love it, it’s imperative that we work towards revolutionizing it into the best possible form.”
Signs of this change were seen before the COVID pandemic, but the worldwide shutdown changed everything in Hollywood. Suddenly, having all your content online was the most important part of reaching a worldwide audience. With theaters closed, people were more and more reliant on streaming. The industry moved forward a decade in a matter of months.
While theaters were closed, Netflix released over 70 movies, with more to come. While some were of higher quality than others, Stuber has helped them have at least one prestige movie a year, allowing them to win Academy Awards, though no best pictures... yet.
What sets Netflix apart from all other studios is that it is not beholden to the box office. They are creating movies for consumers to click on, not to leave home and pay more to see. That means for every blockbuster, they can do a bunch of indies too, always taking risks on what the audience might enjoy, and always having something new to show them.
Goals are set with views in accordance with the budget.
If you spent $200 million on a blockbuster, you're hoping 70+ million tune in. With indie features, they're okay with considerably less. Stuber promises that this is about giving filmmakers and audiences what they've shown they want.
“It’s really about what’s best for the films,” he says. “We feel like it’s important to give the consumers choice. Some want to watch them in theaters, and some want to watch them at home. There’s no one-size-fits-all.”
Even as some filmmakers have decried the small screen, Stuber has shown he's willing to play by Academy rules and put things on the biggest screens possible, for a limited time. He sees filmmakers still frustrated by other studios and knows his way in is simple, letting them make the movie they want while also ensuring people get to see them.
He's also aware that sometimes a movie goes to Netflix and gets lost. He has a plan to fix that.
“We have to be more consistent at making these movies more culturally relevant and putting them in the zeitgeist,” he says. “We know the audience is there for these movies, but I want people to feel that impact in their conversations with friends and colleagues where they’re saying did you hear about this movie Old Guard? We’ve done it, but we haven’t done it consistently.”
Time will tell where Stuber and Netflix go with all these plans. They were ahead of the curve when the pandemic hit, and even though they are growing more slowly than some of the competition, they started with a huge market share and show no signs of shrinking.
Where do you see Netflix going from here? Are they close to snagging their best picture, or will they continue to slowly change Hollywood one movie at a time?
Let us know in the comments.