When Netflix signed up Adam Sandler for a four-picture deal, many scratched their heads. When every streaming service in town was busy trying to align themselves with auteurs and highly respected talent, it seemed counterintuitive to work with an actor whose movies of late had been critically panned, high-gloss vacation videos with obnoxious humor. But Netflix has long claimed Sandler has been a massive success for them, and it’s an assertion chief Ted Sarandos doubles down on in THR‘s roundtable talk with television’s most powerful executives.
Asked about the investment in Sandler, which has yielded two pictures so far, “The Ridiculous Six” and “The Do-Over,” Sarandos has some surprising news.
“The two Adam Sandler movies premiered at No. 1 in every single territory of Netflix around the world. ‘The Do-Over’ is still in the top 10 in nearly all of them. It’s been a hugely successful deal, and he’s got another one called ‘Sandy [Wexler].’ The thing that is most global on Netflix is Adam Sandler,” he said. Huh.
However, one of the more fascinating observations by Sarandos has been how Peak TV has created a dissonance with movies in how people expect to consume content. Basically, they want it right away, and TV provides that option, while you still have to wait for films if you don’t rush out to see them right away at your nearest multiplex.
“One of the byproducts of this golden age of TV is that it has come at the cultural expense of movies. I think why TV has taken this dominant role has been that the distribution models are so much better and more consumer-friendly. So when you give people the opportunity to watch movies, [they do,]” he said.
“When people are excited about a TV show, there are 50 different ways they can watch it. When they’re excited about a movie, they sit around and twiddle their thumbs for 10 months until they can watch it on Netflix or HBO or somewhere. So that’s why we moved into [movie] production,” Sarandos added.
Indeed, people still want to watch movies — cinema is far from dead — and it’s point proven by a rather surprising statistic revealed by HBO’s Richard Pepler.
“74 percent of our viewing across all platforms is Hollywood movies,” he said. “And movies that did not necessarily perform so brilliantly at the box office [perform for us]: ‘John Wick,’ ‘We’re The Millers,’ [‘The Other Woman‘]. I’m talking in the 32 million to 34 million [viewers range] over a period of time.”
That is pretty surprising, but then again, as Sarandos notes, people generally tend to wait for movies to come to them, and it’s rare that they will go to the movies unless it’s something they have to see on the big screen. And it’s all part of what has been an evolution of how we watch movies over the past few years, with VOD increasingly becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle, particularly for independent film. So maybe the conversation about movies shouldn’t be how to save the movies — they’re apparently doing just fine — but rather what it means for the medium when the physical cinema is increasingly not part of the viewing experience.
Check out the full roundtable talk below.