If any of you watched director Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white cinematic epic Roma that landed on Netflix this weekend — the movie that pretty much the entirety of the entertainment industry press is referring to like the film event of the year — you got a revelatory taste of Netflix’s future. For years, the streaming giant has been taking over bigger and bigger chunks of the TV industry, producing one can’t miss, binge-worthy series after another. It’s taken home armfuls of Emmy nominations and awards. And now with the release of Roma, which is being talked about as a potential Best Picture Oscar nominee, it’s only natural that the bigwigs at Netflix would increasingly set their sights on the biggest entertainment prize of them all.
Thanks to a New York Times profile this weekend of Scott Stuber, the Netflix executive in charge of its original movie efforts, we learned that Netflix in an attempt to plant itself firmly in the Oscars race is poised to juice its original content production in a big way. Specifically, it aims to be no less than the most productive studio in Hollywood, with a yearly release slate of a whopping 90 or so original movies that have budgets ranging up to $200 million.
Here’s the plan. Under Stuber, Netflix has two buckets for its movies. Its originals would number about 20 a year, with budgets that range from $20 million to $200 million. There’s also an indie movie group that would produce about 35 originals with budgets of no more than $20 million. When you add in Netflix original movies from other departments, like animation, that pushes the service’s annual original movie streaming output up to the nearly 90-movie figure.
Roma is just a taste of what’s to come and no doubt helped whet Netflix’s appetite for more. From the Times: “With the rapturously reviewed Roma, which arrived on Netflix on Friday, Mr. Stuber has pushed the internet giant into the center of the Oscar race. Mr. Cuarón’s subtle film about life in 1970s Mexico City is likely to give Netflix its first best-picture nomination. To make sure, the company is backing Roma with perhaps the most extravagant Academy Awards campaign ever mounted.”
The Times goes on to report that under Stuber, Netflix is preparing what amounts to no less than a “cinematic onslaught.” One that is leading studios, cinemas and multiplexes around the country to wonder whether Netflix is about to present them with an existential crisis. The crisis is this — the possibility that the streaming giant starts producing so many movies that the company behind so many consumers’ cord-cutting behavior also now will “cause people to stop going to theaters,” too.