Netflix Plans to Release 80 Original Films in 2018

Netflix expects to release around 80 original films next year, as it looks to hit the kind of scale in movies that it’s achieved on the TV side, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“They range anywhere from the million-dollar Sundance hit, all the way up to something on a much larger scale,” like Will Smith-starrer “Bright,” Sarandos said in an investors’ interview Monday about Netflix’s third-quarter 2017 results.

“Bright,” a cop action-thriller movie directed by David Ayer, had a reported production price tag of $90 million. It’s set to debut on Netflix worldwide on Dec. 22. Sarandos also cited as a forthcoming big-budget picture Martin Scorsese’s gangster movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert DeNiro, slated to be released on Netflix in early 2019. “The Irishman” had a $46 million budget.

Sarandos said with the release of “Bright” — a “big-budget, event movie” — “I think people will start seeing the potential for this original movie initiative, that it could be done on the enormous scale we have on the television side.”

Netflix released eight original films in Q3. Those included “Death Note,” based on the popular Japanese manga series; “Naked,” a romantic comedy featuring Marlon Wayans; and anorexia drama “To the Bone,” starring Lily Collins.

On Monday Netflix said that its content spending in 2018 will be between $7 billion and $8 billion — up from $6 billion this year. Previously, the company had pegged $7 billion for content spending next year. That decision was not tied to Netflix’s recent price increases in several markets, including in the U.S., according to CFO David Wells.

“There’s no timing correlation between our intent to grow content and to grow content spending and the price increases,” Wells said. “This has been planned for a long time.”

Regarding Disney’s decision to end it movie-output deal with Netflix with 2019 releases, Sarandos said, “We just have to focus on creating content that our members can’t live without… Whether or not one of our partners decides to produce for us or compete with us, that’s really a choice that they have to make based on their own business.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also noted that outside the U.S., the streamer has carried Disney content only in Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada. “We’ve done very well internationally without it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Netflix will not be looking to buy up the Weinstein Company, which has been devastated by the revelations surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault of women over several decades.

“It would be extremely unlikely for us to be a bidder for the firm,” Hastings said in the investors’ interview. Sarandos said the streamer has an output deal for some films and second-window distribution rights on TV series with Weinstein Company, but said it’s “not material in any way.”

On Monday, Colony Capital announced that it was extending the Weinstein Company an emergency infusion of cash, and the indie studio said it has negotiating with Colony Capital to sell all or a significant portion of its assets.

The Netflix Q3 interview for investors was prerecorded and posted on YouTube at 6 p.m. ET. As with the Q2 earnings, UBS’s Doug Mitchelson was the only analyst who asked questions during the interview with Netflix execs.

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