We have the power.
However much money the streaming giants spend on original content, it seems they will always bury certain noteworthy titles. Buzzy festival acquisitions or indie-leaning original productions can easily get lost behind the week’s big new original series, Hollywood blockbuster… or Bright.
As Hollywood moved away from searching for the next word-of-mouth hit and towards all-marketing-all-the-time tentpoles, the big streaming services have subsumed that initial mindset. Yes, it’s amazing to have 15m viewers in three days, but the infamous opening weekend is far less of a make-or-break proposition for Netflix, Amazon and the like than it is for the theatrical majors.
That does mean, however, that these new studios are more than happy for an original production – particularly a one-off, such as a film – to just sit there and rack up the views over time, as and when subscribers stumble upon it. But distinctive, memorable films like Mudbound, Beasts of No Nation, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, or The Meyerowitz Stories deserve more than an accidental watch.
More than ever, it’s down to fans to spread the word about these films. And I don’t just mean waxing lyrical on Film Twitter or your cinephile group chat, but instead to friends and colleagues that may be out of the loop. Your average user is likely to only be exposed to the films and shows the services’ algorithms push in their faces.
So when sites like Netflix search engine Flixable make the news cycle based on a Reddit post, those in the know shouldn’t bemoan the fact that there are a bunch of sites out there that have been doing the same thing, and better, for years (New On Netflix and JustWatch, to name just two). Instead, we should champion the fact that there is yet another means of democratizing the streaming giants’ machine.
An extra way to keep up with all the new additions and search the back catalog is no bad thing. It’s up to us to create and promote sites like Flixable and to keep tabs on major new arrivals. And it’s up to us to keep reminding people that we live in a world where a terrific, four-time Oscar nominee is currently available to stream for close to free, at any time.
And keep telling them. It’s not like pestering someone into shelling out $20 for a movie ticket, transport, and expensive snacks. Sarah from work probably already has a Netflix account (over half of Wi-Fi connected homes in the US use a streaming service), so all you’re asking for is two hours of her time.
It’s a shame that these influential studios and distributors don’t do a better job allotting their marketing focus, but we do have the power to spread the word. Unlike theatrical moviegoing, there’s a minimal cost involved and no uncompromising theatrical window to battle.
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 19, 2018
So, when Duncan Jones’s Mute — which had a depressingly quiet promotional campaign until this week’s trailer — arrives on Netflix later this month, we can’t rely on the streaming giant or even the director’s passionate, and heartwarmingly lo-fi, social media posts to get this movie seen. It’s evangelistic fans that will make the difference when it comes to his neon-drenched sci-fi noir.