The Netflix Paradox of Great Shows and Mediocre Movies

Under fierce pressure from competitors, will 'Netflix and chill' soon be replaced?
March 7, 2018
10 mins read

Netflix took the world by storm at the beginning of the 21st century. With 117 million subscribers and a presence in 190 countries, the Big N is now just another guest in millions of living rooms.

They also pioneered original content, setting of a tide of original movies and shows by streaming services, such as Amazon or Hulu.

From television shows to documentaries and full-fledged blockbusters, Netflix has delved into every possible medium to broaden their range of content and continually bring joy and surprise to the audiences.

Netflix original movies and television shows are in abundance now since the media company doesn’t seem to reject anything that makes it to their desks.

The Rise of Netflix Original Content

In the world of television shows, Netflix has been leading the streaming services. “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” set the tone for what would come to be the signature of the brand: relevance and intelligence.

Almost every single show they release wound up being a part of the social media chatter, as was the case for “13 Reasons Why” and “Stranger Things.” However, they haven’t all been zingers, with series “Richie Rich,” “Haters Back Off,” “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and others letting down both fans and critics alike.

Right after Netflix found success with TV shows, they decided it was time to get into films. Their initial approach toward movies was less aggressive than that of their series counterparts with a humble number of original movies released, but it would only be a matter of time before the pace took off.

Documentaries were the first genre they went into; however, audiences don’t sign up for this service to watch documentaries, they want shows and movies. In 2015, Netflix put out two original movies.

The number jumped to 18 in 2016 and 41 in 2017. For 2018, 28 films have been confirmed so far, with the possibility for more. Only comedies have been confirmed for releases by April, so with eight more months, Netflix could well break the 2017 total record.

The Bad, The Ugly

The overall reception of movies is difficult to gauge. Many received negative reviews from critics, such as “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Notebook,” while the general audiences embrace them with more than a welcome — some even praise them as modern classics.

While you can’t expect hit after hit when you’re putting out more than 20 movies a year, both viewers and critics have agreed that the decent number of doozies recently is an alarm for quality.

Subscription numbers are still growing every day, yet without quality content, audiences will eventually get tired and the subscription fee may no longer be worth the offerings.

Some of the poorly-received Netflix original movies are “Death Note,” “The Open House,” “You Get Me,” “The Cloverfield Paradox,” “The Ridiculous 6” and “Coin Heist,” among others.

Criticism ranges from disregard for the source material, nonsensical plots, unfunny humor and missed potential. None of them reach 5 out of 10 scores on IMDB, with “Cloverfield” being the only exception at 5.7.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is more secretive with his numbers compared to other video services, such as YouTube, which allows viewers to see live updates of views and likes.

Without this sort of information, audiences rely solely on Netflix’s promotion and some reviews to determine whether to watch a movie or not, which sometimes leads to underestimation and overhype. Either case puts the audiences into a state of confusion in a business that moves by minutes, if not seconds.

Nevertheless, Netflix should be wary of the rising competition in the streaming business and certainly adjust to maintain their leading position, which is undoubtedly threatened despite their advantages of the first comer.

Keeping Up with the Streaming Services

Disney announced in 2017 they were ending the deal with Netflix and pursuing their own streaming service, slated for launch in 2019. In addition, they now have the majority stake in Hulu after the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

If they plan thoroughly, their platform could become the definitive Netflix-killer. Franchises such as the über-popular “Star Wars,” top-grossing “Avatar,” sci-fi classics “Alien” and “Predator” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe would make the film roster highly impressive.

On the other hand, TV shows such as “The Simpsons,” newcomer “The Gifted,” anthology series “American Horror Story,” crowd-pleaser “This Is Us” and vintage hit “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” would give subscribers plenty of binge-watching options.

The Mouse isn’t Netflix’s only budding competitor since Amazon has also created a strong footprint in the streaming market.

Focusing mostly on award-oriented flicks including “Manchester by the Sea,” “Last Flag Flying” and “The Big Sick,” the e-commerce giant is producing at a slower pace than Netflix but by no means lacking in quality.

The lower number of projects could be a reason for Amazon Studios to choose carefully and pick the ones with greatest promises and potentials.

Prime Video has a few films scheduled for release in the next two years: a Joaquin Phoenix thriller, the upcoming action comedy “Gringo,” a drama from “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and an Oscar-style drama with Timothée Chalamet, one of 2017’s breakout stars.

A final threat could be Amazon’s investment in a new “Lord of the Rings” TV series, which could fill the hole left by “Game of Thrones’” final season.

Silver Lining

Netflix’s main source of profit comes from subscriber fees. Currently having more than 117 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix remains the most popular streaming services in the world.

The current standard plan’s $10.99 price point would provide the company more than $1.2 billion monthly. To put into perspective, with that kind of money, you could make 266 films of the same budget as “Get Out,” 35 times “Baby Driver” and 12 times “Dunkirk.”

Of course, it all comes down to what the company sees as the smartest way to sustain their business. However, they shouldn’t overlook possible threats from competitors.

At the moment, the Big N isn’t stumbling as their subscriptions are growing at a steady pace around the globe. On top of that, their TV shows, which comprises of more original content, are worth the membership fee. Still, this doesn’t mean they should neglect the film department, especially when money doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Some of the recent releases show excellent judgment and signal hope of revival. “Gerald’s Game,” “1922” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” were all examples of quality investments.

“Bright” might have been a mixed bag, but the fact they gave a star-led big budget movie a chance is quite positive and apparently they will push for projects in that vein from now on.

Netflix original movies may, in fact, be at the forefront of streaming production. “The Irishman,” directed by Martin Scorsese and bringing together Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, has all the makings of a classic.

Netflix-and-chill fans can be at ease for now, but the future could see Disney-and-chill becoming the new thing, although it doesn’t sound nearly as suave to say.

Diego Galicia, Valencia College

Writer Profile

Diego Galicia

Valencia College
Digital Media


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