Netflix Plans to Release 80 Original Films in 2018

Netflix expects to release around 80 original films next year, as it looks to hit the kind of scale in movies that it’s achieved on the TV side, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“They range anywhere from the million-dollar Sundance hit, all the way up to something on a much larger scale,” like Will Smith-starrer “Bright,” Sarandos said in an investors’ interview Monday about Netflix’s third-quarter 2017 results.

Netflix’s target for original movies next year compares with a 2017 slate of about 50 film titles that it has released or is scheduled to debut globally. Those include comedies, dramas, anime, action movies, foreign films and documentaries.

“Bright,” a cop action-thriller movie directed by David Ayer, had a reported production price tag of $90 million. It’s set to debut on Netflix worldwide on Dec. 22. Sarandos also cited as a forthcoming big-budget picture Martin Scorsese’s gangster movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert DeNiro, slated to be released on Netflix in early 2019. “The Irishman” has a budget of more $100 million.

Sarandos said with the release of “Bright” — a “big-budget, event movie” — “I think people will start seeing the potential for this original movie initiative, that it could be done on the enormous scale we have on the television side.”

Netflix released eight original films in Q3. Those included “Death Note,” based on the popular Japanese manga series; Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” drama about the Cambodian genocide; “Naked,” a romantic comedy featuring Marlon Wayans; and anorexia drama “To the Bone,” starring Lily Collins.

Theater chains have fought against Netflix’s incursion into movies, over its model of releasing films for theatrical debut the same day they’re available to stream on Netflix.

In reporting Q3 results Monday, Netflix said that its content spending in 2018 will be between $7 billion and $8 billion — up from $6 billion this year. Previously, the company had pegged $7 billion for content spending next year. That decision was not tied to Netflix’s recent price increases in several markets, including in the U.S., according to CFO David Wells.

“There’s no timing correlation between our intent to grow content and to grow content spending and the price increases,” Wells said. “This has been planned for a long time.”

Regarding Disney’s decision to end its movie-output deal with Netflix with 2019 releases, Sarandos said, “We just have to focus on creating content that our members can’t live without… Whether or not one of our partners decides to produce for us or compete with us, that’s really a choice that they have to make based on their own business.”

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SOURCE: Variety, Todd Spangler