Normalization Netflix

From Backlash to Oscar Winners: The Normalization of Netflix

When you think of Netflix, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it’s not “a production company that makes multimillion dollar movies with critically-acclaimed actors and directors.” But that might be the direction the company is moving in.

This journey from streaming service to producers of serious films only started a few years ago. The first major Netflix original film shown at a film festival before the streaming service, was Okja. When shown at the Cannes Film Festival, it received boos from the crowd as soon as the Netflix logo appeared.

Only two years after the Okja incident, Netflix original movies being shown at film festivals and in theaters has become normalized, especially with the release and acclaim for director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.

Earlier this year, the film received a total of 48 awards, including Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. After this release, there was no denying that Netflix could produce reputable films.

With this newfound credibility, Netflix has been making bigger budget films with more noticeable cast and crews. Big names in Hollywood have hopped on board to work with the production company.

Some standout titles include The Irishman (starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and directed by Martin Scorsese), El Camino (starring Aaron Paul and other Breaking Bad heavyweights), The Laundromat (starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and directed by Steven Soderbergh), Marriage Story (starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson), Dolemite is My Name (starring Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes), and The King (starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, and Robert Patinson).

Normalization Netflix 2Each film’s cast and crew are stacked with Hollywood talent that have mostly worked with top level production studios over their careers. And it’s possible that with enough buzz, films like The Irishman and The King may take home some gold statues this coming February.

Chad Dell. Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Communication, recognized Netflix’s transition from both a streaming service to production studio. “Netflix is following in the footsteps of nearly every other major media distribution company,” Dell said.

“Just like film studios, television networks, and more recent distributors like Amazon, Netflix recognizes that producing as well as distributing content is an integral part of its business model. It’s called vertical integration in business circles, and while it is not good for consumers, it is for multinational corporations like Netflix,” he concluded.

As Netflix is the first of the streaming platforms to gain so much credibility for original movies, they have set the standard for release protocol. They release their star studded films in theaters for a couple weeks, then release them exclusively on their streaming service. Because of this, they become eligible for award nomiations and receive a little box office cash.

However, it creates a strain for theaters. With the extremely limited screenings of The Irishman in smaller theaters for a couple weeks until it reaches the streaming platform, theater owners are upset that they won’t be able to show the film and make some cash off a highly anticipated film. The New York Times asked John Fithian of the National Association Theater Owners about the matter, to which he replied, “It’s a disgrace!”

To see if Netflix’s grand productions lived up to their hype, I did some research on the small screen. The first flick I watched was Dumplin (Golden Globe Best Original Song 2019 winner), which had a great plot and even better soundtrack. All the music in the movie is a variation of Dolly Parton songs and perfectly matched the hopeful southern story.

Secondly, was The King, which was just released on Nov. 1. I went into this film with two impressions: a concern of the amount of boredom I was about endure in watching a nearly two-and-a-half hour period drama, but with some excitement to see Chalamet speaking French. Surprisingly, The King stole my crown.

While being a longer historically accurate film, the storyline and complex characters are incredibly well developed. Additionally, the camera work and editing were expertly done. The scale of this film is grand with its intense battle scenes involvng hundreds of actors in chain male and weaponry.

With these films out in time for Oscar season and more on the horizon, Netflix has quickly cemented themselves as capable of making valuable films, and are establishing their place in the industry. In only two years, Netflix went from receiving boos at Cannes to cheers at the Oscars.

IMAGES TAKEN from One News Page

IMAGE TAKEN from The San Diego Tribune