Netflix is just getting started with this whole original movies thing.
Sure, the once-DVD delivery company and future king of streaming has produced successful TV series like House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. It's also produced award-winning documentaries. But I'm sure Netflix would be the first to admit – fictional movies are an entirely different beast.
Earlier this week, Netflix announced its first-ever original feature film – a sequel to Ang Lee's 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It'll be called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend and will land on Netflix and (some) IMAX screens in August of next year. On the heels of that announcement, Netflix made a somewhat more surprising and no doubt polarizing decision. For its second foray into filmmaking, with all eyes fixated on its every move, Netflix struck a huge, multi-year deal with...
Cue this sort of response, which has been pretty common in the hours since the announcement:
If Adam Sandler is the 'big get' for Netflix's foray into movies, regular movie studios are probably safe for another century or two.
— Robert Rice (@RobertB_Rice) October 2, 2014
Netflix had to have known that this would elicit this type of feedback – at least from a decent swath. The past, well, decade or so of Adam Sandler productions have been less than inspiring. Despite what you think of Jack & Jill, however, do note that Adam Sandler movies continue to perform at the box office – at least on the whole. Adam Sandler is a nearly $4 billion box office commodity.
But that's only a small, and I'll say much less significant factor in Netflix's decision to sign up for four (count 'em, four) original Happy Madison productions.
The reason Netflix inked this deal, for an Adam Sandler movie a year for four years, is because it knows you're going to watch them. It knows you're going to watch them because Netflix has been compiling data on your viewing habits since day one. It's how it knew you'd lose your shit over House of Cards. It's how it knew you would tell all of your friends that they just had to watch Orange Is The New Black.
And it's how it knows you'll watch Adam Sandler.
“They’re so repeatable,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says of Adam Sandler movies. “What we’ve seen is the more international we have become, the data has reinforced the incredible global strength of Adam.”
Sarandos says that Adam Sandler is one of the most-viewed actors on Netflix. Globally.
What do you bet Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is super popular on Netflix?
“We know what people watch on Netflix and we’re able with a high degree of confidence to understand how big a likely audience is for a given show based on people’s viewing habits,” Netflix communications director Jonathan Friedland told Wired nearly two years ago. “We want to continue to have something for everybody. But as time goes on, we get better at selecting what that something for everybody is that gets high engagement.”
Netflix knows you. And it wouldn't make a deal like this without
some a ton of evidence suggesting that people will watch. In droves.
“When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only . Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks,” said Adam Sandler in the press release. ”Let the streaming begin!!!!”
Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks! Go ahead and say whatever dumb shit you want, Adam Sandler. It doesn't matter. This is bigger than you. It's data.
Image via YouTube screenshot