Netflix Restructures Film Units, Cuts Back on Original Content

Netflix has decided to focus on fewer, but higher quality, originals, and has restructured its film group to accommodate the change. Fifteen-year Netflix veteran Lisa Nishimura, who oversaw low-budget features and original documentaries is exiting, along with film group VP Ian Bricke, who logged more than 10 years at the company. Live-action films will now be the purview of a trio of execs: Kira Goldberg, Ori Marmur and Niija Kuykendall. Goldberg and Marmur, who joined Netflix in 2021, were tasked with developing high-end commercial projects. Kuykendall, who joined later that year from Warner Bros., was assigned mid-budget films.

In combining the units that produce small- and mid-sized projects, Netflix triggered “a handful of layoffs and the departure of two of its most experienced executives,” Bloomberg reports. Film chief Scott Stuber orchestrated the change as he dials back the number of originals the company makes or acquires.

“Netflix recently revealed its 2023 original films lineup, which consists of 49 titles,” writes TechCrunch, noting “the company had 85 original films in its lineup last year.”

Many originals have brought buzz and recognition to the streaming service. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” earned $15 million in one week of theatrical release last year then became Netflix’s third most-watched film ever in the weekly rankings.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” won an Oscar for Best International Film last month, becoming Netflix’s most Oscar-winning film, taking home four trophies. But many others came and went with scant notice.

Stuber — who was vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Pictures prior to joining Netflix in 2017 — “is now centralizing more of the decisions and is trying to get more of his executives to collaborate,” writes Bloomberg, explaining Netflix recruited Stuber to increase its output “in part because it knew that other studios would stop licensing as many titles as they focused on their own streaming services.”

The streamer increased staff and divided their duties according to film budgets, with an indie group for projects that cost $30 million or less, a mid-budget unit overseeing $30 to $80 million movies, and a third group for films costing more than $80 million.

“Those different divisions operated with relative autonomy, in keeping with Netflix’s culture of decentralized decision-making,” Bloomberg says, adding that Stuber now holds a tighter rein.

Nishimura “joined Netflix in the DVD days, and as the company moved into streaming built our original documentary and stand-up comedy divisions from the ground up, establishing Netflix as a powerhouse in both spaces,” Stuber told Variety, who calls her “a fixture in the indie community and on the annual festival circuit.”

In his role shepherding mid-budget films, Bricke is credited with a major role in creating “The Kissing Booth” franchise and maintaining relationships with filmmakers including Nicole Holofcener and the Duplass brothers.

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