Whenever we meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask is “what series or movies do you watch on Netflix?” The streaming giant is known for providing licensed content as well as creating its own “original” content since 2013 with the release of “House of Cards”.
Netflix’s success in being a leader in the industry is due to Big Data which refers to large and diverse data sets analyzed computationally to reveal valuable information such as trends and patterns related to human interactions and behavior. The streaming giant’s strategy heavily relies on big data to track consumer preferences and provides content accordingly. According to an article by Forbes, Netflix’s ability to offer a multimillion-dollar deal to Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes or Michelle and Barack Obama isn’t based on gut-feeling or genius but on data which proves that content with specific characteristics will be very attractive for a certain number of subscribers. Moreover, Netflix’s annual revenues as of 2019 are around $20 billion and according to an article by Variety Magazine, a new forecast by Wall Street firm BMO Capital Markets Netflix will spend around $17 billion this year on original content, which is about 85% of its total revenues.
Mostly popular for its original series such as “Peaky Blinders” and “Stranger Things”, Netflix is somehow quite bad at producing its own original movies. Most movies produced by the streaming giant are quite shallow and “cringe” such as “Tall Girl” or even shocking and awkward such as “365 Days”. However, having enough data and money that could lead to greatness, why does Netflix invest in terrible movies when it has attractive series?
According to an article published by Quartz the streaming giant doesn’t produce most of its successful “original” series but actually gets them from traditional TV networks such as Lionsgate, Paramount TV, Sony Picture TV or Warner Bros. TV. For instance, the popular series “Orange Is The New Black” is labeled a Netflix original but it was produced by Lionsgate. So why does Netflix take all the credit? Well, “original” can refer to several things such as programming, licensing, or even producing. For example, the well-known series “Stranger Things” is self-produced but its creators Matt and Ross Duffer, as well as Netflix, are sued for copyright infringement, according to an article from The Daily Mail, “A company has claimed the idea for the hit show was taken from a screenplay titled Totem, which was written by Jeffrey Kennedy.” On the other hand, Netflix original movies such as “Bright” and “Mudbound” are authentically self-produced but lack any artistic or cinematic depth. For example, according to a Forbes article, the action movie “Bright” starring Will Smith was labeled as “The Worst Movie of the Year” (2017) due to its bad visuals, incoherent script, and poor structure which induces the audience to watch the movie while on their phones. However, the budget of this movie was around $90 million whilst a good action movie like “John Wick 3” (2019) had a budget of $75 million. It’s a paradox that Netflix, a leader in the streaming industry, specializes and wastes tons of money on terrible movies starring big Hollywood stars for the sake of popularity and clout rather than artistic flare. It seems that Netflix prefers to create awful movies starring great actors for the sole purpose of generating money. Although Netflix uses Big Data and spends most of its vast revenues on original series, it does not justify the fact of creating shallow and cheesy movies starring idealized actors such as Noah Centineo in “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” and Jacob Elordi in “The Kissing Booth”.
Some might argue that young people nowadays enjoy these kinds of films and that it is not a bad strategy for Netflix to finance such movies but it comes with a great drawback on youth culture and the quality of movies they consume. Most Netflix subscribers are young people who are exposed to these kinds of movies and Netflix could likely jeopardize the future of cinemas and pop culture, so if the streaming giant continues to fund commercial movies for the sake of money and popularity, then artistic and insightful movies with actual depth and cinematic values will ultimately dwindle until they lose their presence.