In December, Netflix’s original movie head Scott Stuber teased a “cinematic onslaught” complete with 20 original films per year and $200 million blockbusters. Now, his vision is becoming a reality.
The free spending market-leading streamer has committed upwards of $500 million to three highly-anticipated big-budget films, The Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier this month, Universal surprised the industry by relinquishing its rights to the extremely expensive Dwayne Johnson action film Red Notice. Netflix has agreed to foot the bill, which includes $200 million in production costs; stars Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds are all taking home massive paydays. The movie follows an Interpol agent (Johnson) as he tracks the world’s most wanted art thief. It promises to be a globe-trotting caper.
Next up, Michael Bay’s $150 million to $170 million 6 Underground, which also stars Reynolds. The Deadpool actor is said to be earning somewhere around $30 million for the feature. The film will follow six billionaires who fake their own deaths and form an elite vigilante squad in order to hunt criminals.
Last, but certainly not least, is Martin Scorsese’s enticing mob movie The Irishman. The film, which utilizes complicated and costly de-aging visual effects, was rumored to be costing Netflix $140 million last year. Now, WSJ reports the budget has ballooned to between $173 million and $200 million. Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is considered a significant risk for Sony due to its hefty $90 million budget. With traditional wide theatrical releases pretty much out of the question for these three Netflix features, one has to wonder about the risk vs. reward ratio.
The market-leading streaming service is coming off its worst quarterly earnings since entering the original programming realm, though its long-term prospects remain strong. Exclusive original programming drives new subscriptions, which is how Netflix makes its money as opposed to theatrical ticket sales. These enticing titles seem to be moving the pop culture needle with film fans, though it’s fair to wonder about the their footprint upon release versus their exuberant costs.
In March, CEO Reed Hastings pegged Netflix’s monthly content budget at $1.4 billion.