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.
Netflix has been approached with a proposal that could bring back the movie serial and give Netflix 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.
While Netflix would love to start getting films sooner after they hit theatres, there are a few reasons the proposal might not fit with the rest of the company’s strategy.
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, Netflix chief content officer Ted 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 come to expect marathon sessions of their favourite shows, it might hurt to release a top-quality show at a rate slower than most shows appear on cable.
The other problem is cost. Netflix has shown that it’s not afraid to invest in premium content, but offering content that could also bring in large theatre audiences would likely require far more of an investment than the $US4 million per episode the company has put behind its original shows.
With revenue for the serials split between ticket sales at theatres and the subscriptions gained from customers attracted by the new content, the investments movie studios expect from Netflix may be too high to get the kind of returns Kevin Spacey (who starred in and produced “House of Cards”) bragged about in his speech that went viral back in August.
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.
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