Quick, which one of these is your favorite?
The Polka King; 6 Balloons; Amateur; Love Per Square Foot; Game Over, Man!; The Outsider; Come Sunday; Mute; Irreplaceable You; Happy Anniversary; Roxanne Roxanne; Dude; First Blush; Seeing Allred; The Open House; I Am Not an Easy Man; Benji; A Futile and Stupid Gesture; Step Sisters; Take Your Pills; Blockbuster; First Match; When We First Met; Mercury 13; The Cloverfield Paradox; Kodachrome.
Those are the 25 original films released by Netflix in 2018. How many have you seen? How many do you recognize? Can you spot the one I made up?
This article looks at the reasoning behind Netflix’s push to release new, original movies. In many cases, you won’t have seen, or even heard about these movies, unless you diligently pore over the latest releases.
By the end of this year, Netflix will be the single biggest original movie producer in America, far outpacing Disney, Warner Bros., and the rest in terms of sheer quantity. Maybe one will even compete for Best Picture next year. But does it matter if no one has ever heard of most of these movies?
It’s hard to fathom Netflix’s content strategy. Big-name series, like House of Cards, certainly draw viewers, but the days when I would look closely at their “original” movies has long passed into the distance. Many if not most are uninteresting, and I look at them now as I look at any other movie.
One of the examples in this article stands out:
Kodachrome is emblematic of the morass of Netflix movie offerings. Neither comedy nor drama, neither special nor terrible, neither quotable nor truly forgettable, it is the embodiment of so much we consume in 2018; it’s just sort of there.
Interestingly, I watched Kodachrome the other night, after stumbling on it way down the “Recently Added” section. I quite liked it. It’s part road movie, part rom-com, and, while it’s predictable after a while, I enjoyed Ed Harris’s performance (his grumpy old man persona made me wonder how he would fare as King Lear).
The problem with this article, however, is one of ignorance; not that the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but that he’s in the United States, and doesn’t realize how international Netflix’s strategy is. I don’t know if US Netflix viewers can see all the Spanish, French, German, Finnish, and Turkish movies and TV series that I see here in the UK. Netflix’s strategy is global, and while this writer may pooh-pooh a list of movies he doesn’t pay attention to, it’s very possible that in certain markets these movies are popular. I have not noticed all of the 25 movies he lists at the beginning of his article, but I have certainly spotted a number of them (and, in most cases, decided that they are not for me).
While the problem with Netflix may be that there is too much content, but is that everyone’s problem? For many users, they may find just what they want to watch. Remember, Netflix’s algorithm knows what you like, what you’ve watched, and what you’ve finished. So while you may not see all 25 of those movies, Netflix will present to you the ones that it thinks you’ll watch. You’ll watch a couple, and you’ll keep your subscription active.