Everyone already knew that Netflix is an astonishingly ambitious company, with plans to disrupt the natural course of television and become a world-consuming film destination. Since its original programming efforts began in 2013, the streaming service has accomplished the former by unleashing a tidal wave of content, but its efforts in moviemaking have been a bit hit-or-miss. However, after years of overpromising and underdelivering, Netflix is finally ready to make the cinematic leap—and now we have some details on how it plans to do so.
First, Alfonso Cuarón’s beautiful Roma, which hit Netflix last Friday, has the opportunity to make history as the first streaming movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. At the very least, Cuarón looks to be a lock for Best Director, lending Netflix’s film division immediate credibility. Beyond that, the streamer plans to release a crazy number of films annually to ensure its place in the greater pop culture conversation.
On Sunday, The New York Times profiled Netflix’s original-movie head, Scott Stuber, who promised a “cinematic onslaught” from the company. Per the outlet, Netflix will focus on two motion picture lanes: about 20 original films per year, with budgets ranging from $20 million to $200 million, and around 35 indie films per year, with budgets below $20 million. Throw in documentaries and animation, and Netflix’s original film branch will be putting out around 90 movies a year.
For comparison, the six major film studios release between 150 and 175 movies annually combined. Disney, the domestic leader in box office, has released just nine films this year.
In an attempt to make headway with Oscars voters and the Academy, with which Netflix holds a prickly relationship, the streamer granted limited exclusive theatrical releases for three of its current films: Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Bird Box. The streamer is expected to continue to do so in order to lure top-tier filmmaking talent to its platform. It’s already working with Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Guillermo del Toro and Michael Bay, and also struck a multi-picture film deal with Paramount, which could potentially yield blockbuster efforts for familiar intellectual property such as the Transformers.
In front of the camera, Netflix continues to attract big names such as Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Sandra Bullock. More and more Hollywood A-listers are teaming with the streamer, and attracting big names seems to be a point of emphasis for Stuber.
“If you’re going to build a great film studio, you have to build it with great filmmakers,” Stuber told The Times. “We’re trying to build a new studio that is exciting for artists.”
Netflix’s expansion is far from complete—the streamer has started handing out mind-boggling nine-figure deals to prolific showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, and it continues to gobble up familiar IP for additional programming. While it spends between $8 billion and $12 billion on content annually, it also has plans to jumpstart its overseas subscription growth to help cover its mounting debt. As things stand today, the streamer boasts nearly 140 million subscribers across the globe.
So it looks like it’s becoming Netflix’s world—we’re just living in it.