The traditional hierarchy in Hollywood is being challenged; shortly after production company A24 signed a deal with Apple to produce movies for the tech behemoth, Paramount Pictures have done the same with Netflix, teaming up to produce movies for the streaming service.
The Hollywood Reporter quoted Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos announcing a multi-picture deal with Netflix via a Viacom earnings call, receiving “an incremental revenue stream” in return for providing a new slate of movies.
Whilst every other major studio is digging in to fight the streaming services by launching their own services (such as Disney and Warner Bros), these two have turned the other way. Rather than withholding their movies from the streaming services, Paramount and A24 are trying a very different tactic.
The caveat here is that Paramount and A24 aren’t quite the same as Disney or Warner. A24 is just 6 years old but has scored serious hits with such arthouse/genre fare as Hereditary, Lady Bird and Moonlight. Whilst Paramount has been suffering compared to the competition by not having a huge number of franchises or successful tentpole offerings. Some pundits are seeing this as possibly a desperate move for the ailing studio.
However, this is all new territory and could prove to be a wise move. The public are faced with having to subscribe to multiple streaming services to get the content they want, at some point fatigue will set in and the thought of subscribing to yet another one, just to see one film you fancy, will become pointless. Disney and Warner may inadvertently be creating small sandboxes in taste terms, whilst the streaming services provide a slate to satisfy a broader range of tastes.
Then of course is the perennial bugbear of streaming services, the lack of theatrical presentation. Some movies scream out to be seen on the biggest screen possible, such as Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming drama Roma, yet it can be argued that many movies get a pretty rough deal anyway as theatres are filled with generic tentpoles. Likewise, a whole swathe of mid budget original movies have been swept out of existence, if you’re not a sequel, prequel or have superheroes beating the crap out of each other then you won’t get much of a release. So maybe these kind of deals will herald a revival for films that provide a valuable stepping stone for talent on both sides of the camera.
All the parties in these deals are being tight lipped about the direction they may go in. For sure, the tech and streaming companies have very deep pockets and aren’t afraid to spread it across a range of diverse content. The major studios, on the other hand, seem to be inward looking, Disney remaking every animated film as live action, engaging with talented and individual directors and then bottling it half way through on the Star Wars, and to a degree, the Marvel conveyor belt. Then there are the misfires of public domain IP such as the Guy Ritchie King Arthur flop or the latest Robin Hood bomb.
One thing is for sure, the movie making landscape is changing. Who the winners and losers are going to be will take some time to come to light.