September 20, 2019
Netflix, which traditionally has paid talent with upfront deals, is reportedly considering bonuses for filmmakers, actors and producers when their movies prove to be successful. Insiders indicate that the number of awards a movie wins or its viewership numbers could measure the level of success. The new incentive model would be designed to win film projects for the streaming service that would otherwise be picked up by other studios. While Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s original film division, has been discussing possibilities with producers, details regarding the types of bonuses or who might receive them have not been revealed.
“The tactic would be a way to win over on-the-fence directors and producers who might be shopping a project around at multiple streaming services, while also entertaining the idea of a traditional theatrical release,” reports The Verge.
The proposed model is being debated at Netflix, and could potentially prove costly for a company that “has traditionally covered the cost of production and paid fixed premiums to filmmakers and producers on top of that.”
According to Bloomberg, “the bonuses are different than Hollywood’s traditional ‘back-end’ arrangements, where filmmakers get a percentage of box-office money. Since Netflix’s films don’t get released widely at theaters — if they hit the big screen at all — there’s no hope for a big payoff there.”
Netflix’s movie studio is still in its early years, and currently faces more competition than ever before. A shift in its payment or bonus strategy could help lure talent from its rivals.
While the company has been successful in the television sector, it “has angered filmmakers, movie theaters and cinephiles by insisting that its features appear on its service at the same time they appear in theaters — or shortly thereafter,” notes Bloomberg. “In response, some chains have shunned its films altogether.”
“Netflix’s inability to convince major theater chains to carry its movies has cost the service many projects, according to the people, and may have hurt its films at the annual awards shows.”
Whether the bonus strategy is ultimately introduced or not, it can still be seen as evidence that Netflix continues its struggle “to establish itself within the traditional film world,” suggests The Verge. Despite recent Oscar wins, Hollywood and the festival circuit remain frustrated by the company’s history regarding minimal wide releases and demands for day-and-date releases. “Yet Netflix is also hungry for official recognition in the form of prestige pictures and the accompanying awards, which has required winning over directors, actors, and screenwriters more inclined to go the traditional route.”