With subscribers declining and competitors on the rise, Netflix has had to find ways to compensate and adjust to the State of Streaming in 2022. One way they plan to do that, executives said, is to make “bigger and better” movies, ultimately releasing fewer overall than the excessive output they’ve accrued in recent years. That also means the era of exorbitantly expensive vanity projects — like Martin Scorsese’s 2019 crime drama The Irishman, which had a $175 million price tag — is over.
With massive names like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino in its cast, The Irishman felt like an easy grab for visibility (albeit an entertaining one). But execs at Netflix say these massive prestige pieces are more voracious than they’re worth: “This tendency to do anything to attract talent and giving them carte blanche is going away,” one source told The Hollywood Reporter.
Instead, Netflix will allocate most of its resources to producing more popcorn flicks in the vein of past hits Red Notice, The Adam Project, and Don’t Look Up. Already on the way in 2022 is the $200 million spy thriller The Gray Man starring Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans, and the first sequel to Knives Out. Executives believe such films are key to future subscriber growth.
This “better and fewer” mentality likely won’t be super noticeable to the casual Netflix watcher, but it’ll also likely mean less green-lighting of small budget films. For example, instead of making two $10 million-dollar movies, Netflix might opt for one $20 million-dollar movie that would, hopefully, be a lot better in terms of quality.
Mid-budget films have served Netflix well in the past, with movies like Always Be My Maybe, The Kissing Booth, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before becoming hits.