September 19, 2019

Netflix's Plan to Pay Bonuses to Filmmakers Is a Good Thing

Netflix's new bonus policy is a step to keep projects and directors like Martin Scorsese from heading to rival studios. 

Netflix is infamous for paying top dollar to talent and filmmakers, buying out their backend participation with huge upfront payments to secure their services. So, no residuals. Which sucks, in the long term. Now, the streaming giant is considering a bonus plan to help keep A-list talent happy and to prevent the from taking their projects elsewhere. 

Netflix plans to pay filmmakers, actors and movie producers a bonus if their films are successful, according to Bloomberg. "The measure of success would depend on the movie," said sources familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. So, in the case of prestige, Oscar-bait projects like Roma or Martin Scorsese's upcoming The Irishman, films that fall under this category could have their incentives linked to how many awards they win. Some films, Bloomberg reports, could earn bonuses based on viewership tiers. (The latter may make Netflix's ratings more transparent.)

"Scott Stuber, the head of Netflix’s film unit, has discussed various possibilities with producers," Bloomberg reports. But Stuber has yet to lock down specifics regarding how to reward people or which people to reward them. 

These bonuses are different fro the usual back-end deals Hollywood makes, which are based on "points" and how much of a percentage filmmakers and talent make off box office. But since Netflix's movies do not get wide theatrical releases to warrant such deals, the streamer has to make other plans. 

Netflix's presence as a disruptor of "business as usual" in Hollywood as upended relationships between studios and bankable talent, sending filmmakers like Michael Bay and Scorsese -- with traditional wide release outputs -- to the streamer to help enable their visions with seemingly sky's-the-limit budget. But filmmakers want that big screen experience, for themselves, their projects, and their audience. And not all talent is convinced that Netflix's all upfront practice is the most effective way to go for their respective needs.

According to Bloomberg, "bonuses are one of many ways in which Netflix is trying to accommodate talent" in that space. It's also an effort to help hedge losing more projects to major studios, since Netflix's struggles to convince theater chains like AMC to carry their films to their release window specs has cost the company several projects that would appeal to his subscriber base. 

The lack of a theatrical presence is hurting Netflix in the run for awards glory, and now they're loosening up their purse strings to appeal to those who don't want to just make product for the "Netflix and Chill" crowd. Consider this another lesson in the Streaming Wars, and another example of why nothing can beat the theatrical experience for you and your work.       

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1 Comment

So they expect their users to pay monthly ongoing fees but they don't offer to pay their talent ongoing residuals.......and now they're thinking about how to 'reward' their fellow business partners.......oh dear.....congrats Netflix, you're a pretty entitled "Hollywood" already!

September 20, 2019 at 4:14AM

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