Before television became the primary method of telling longer stories through film, people would go to their local theatre every week to catch episodic content.
Produced at a lower cost than movies, the “movie serials” of the 1930s gave us the cliffhanger and many other tropes we see in television and action-adventure films to this day.
Major film studios have approached Netflix with a proposal that could bring back the movie serial and give Netflix the content sooner after it hits theatres, a source tells Business Insider.
The proposal involves movie studios creating miniseries of roughly 10 episodes that would be released in theatres every two months or so. A few weeks after hitting theatres, these one- to two-hour episodes would become available exclusively via Netflix.
But Netflix isn’t sold on the proposal yet. While Netflix would love to start getting films sooner after they hit theatres, chief content officer Ted Sarandos is said to have a few qualms.
First, it goes against the binge model of content consumption that the company has been talking up with its original series like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black.”
Back in February, Sarandos said that the way its users watch several episodes of a show at a time rather than spacing them out over longer periods was changing the way we talk about television. When customers have come to expect that they’ll be able to have marathon sessions of their favourite shows, it wouldn’t look good to release a top-quality show at a rate slower than most shows on cable.
The other problem is cost. Netflix has shown that it’s not afraid to invest in premium content, but what the movie studios have pitched would involve budgets closer to those of big-budget blockbusters.
With revenue for the serials split between ticket sales at theatres and the subscriptions gained from customers attracted by the new content, Netflix’s content team has raised concerns that the investments movie studios expect from Netflix are too high to get a decent return.
While negotiations over this proposal continue, Netflix is pushing forward with another major partnership. With Disney, Netflix will be home to four TV series based on Marvel superheroes that will culminate in a movie about the superhero group “The Defenders,” essentially recreating Marvel’s strategy with the “Avengers” films for the small screen.