The streaming service continues to pick a wide variety of original content, for better or worse.
Continuing with their quest for world domination, Netflix has lined up an interesting pair of projects. As reported by Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter respectively, the streaming service has picked up new movies from Will Ferrell and Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole.
The former is Eurovision, written by Ferrell and Saturday Night Live writer Andrew Steele. The film will be a comedic look at the international song contest of the same name, with Ferrell in the lead role. The latter, All Day and a Night, will be written and directed by Cole. It’s his second script for Netflix, following the recent announcement of Failsafe starring Michael B. Jordan.
THR shared the following information about All Day and a Night:
Cole wrote the script for the project, which is set in three parallel narratives and follows a young criminal after his arrival in prison as he looks back on the days preceding his arrest and the circumstances of his childhood to find clues to his way forward in life and his survival.
What do these two announcements say about the streaming giant’s current strategy for movies? Looking at these upcoming films certainly highlights Netflix’s willingness to put out a wide variety of films. From music-based comedy to prison drama by an upcoming writer, they appear to have all bases covered. And a look at their 2018 movie list shows the same desire to cover all corners of the film world. But how has this strategy worked out? Well, it’s been… mixed.
Netflix’s acquisition of several big sci-fi movies this year should have guaranteed them some big hits. But when Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox hit the streaming service in February, alarm bells went off. Suddenly, the image of Netflix as a distributor willing to take risks changed to one looking to scoop up bombs that studios didn’t want. The idea of “dumping a movie on Netflix” began to enter into conversations. But this strategy has also had its successes.
When Paramount decided they no longer wanted to distribute Annihilation internationally, Netflix stepped in. Not only did this bring Alex Garland’s mystifying film to a larger audience, the move also positioned Netflix as the one willing to take the risk on a challenging film. This is also backed up by their distribution of movies like Okja and Beasts of No Nation. But when these films sit alongside numerous middling originals, the bigger picture appears to reveal that Netflix can release all these because they simply have less to lose. And even a disaster like Bright can get viewers talking enough for others to watch it out of morbid curiosity.
This method has also led to success in the documentary field, with Oscar nominations (and wins) for features and shorts including Icarus, 13th, Strong Island, The White Helmets, and Heroin(e). And that’s not to mention their vast catalog of acclaimed documentary series.
But what does this onslaught of material say about Netflix? What is their identity outside of an onslaught of material? As a streaming service, they don’t have the careful curation of FilmStruck or MUBI. And as a distributor, Netflix’s output has none of the consistency of, say, A24. The appeal of selecting a film at random is diminished somewhat when so much of their output feels designed to fill out the “Originals” tab.
It’s worth noting, though, that Netflix isn’t really aiming for these more niche markets. If we’re to take anything from their catalog of original films, it’s that appealing to everyone is the goal here. Quantity over quality. How sustainable that model is, remains to be seen. But for now, I’m at least happy to see the likes of Annihilation brought to audiences, even if it means sitting through the occasional Mute. And as for these latest announcements? Well, Ferrell is due for a good movie soon, and more films from Black Panther‘s co-writer can only be a good thing.