Every indie filmmaker seems to have the same goal: to sell a movie to Netflix.

But few understand the criteria Netflix uses to select its films.

Most assume that Netflix buys films just like any other traditional studio like Warner Bros. or Universal.

In reality, however, Netflix works with a very different business model.

For most studios, every single film is a separate product. These products may have additional derivatives (like action figures or lunch boxes), but every single film lives on its own island.

Netflix doesn’t see films as individual entities. Instead, Netflix is ​​focusing on their single dominant product: Your library.

What Netflix wants is just more paying subscribers. That is clearly their number one business goal as it is their dominant source of income.

So when choosing a movie to add to your library, the first thing you need to ask is:

Will the cost of producing this film generate at least as much revenue in new subscription fees?

Sure, Netflix executives also look for quality entertainment, high production value, great stories, and a host of other criteria. But these variables alone do not guarantee new subscribers. Only one thing really does:

Audience size.

This week I’ve seen a lot of discussions online about Netflix’s new movie He is everything, a remake of the 90s classic She is all of that.

There was talk of the film’s lead role (Addison Rae) being a poor cast choice.

“Why shouldn’t Hollywood just cast a better actor when there are so many out there?” Is a question I’ve heard over and over again.

Well here’s a reason – Addison Rae did 83 million followers on TikTok.

Like it or not, the Netflixs of the world place great importance on viewer size, and for good reason. If the movie isn’t great by traditional standards, it will still attract a lot.

If only 1% of Rae’s 83 million followers subscribe to Netflix to watch the movie, that’s over $ 11 million in monthly revenue for a monthly subscription price of $ 13.99.

And many of these users will stay signed in for the long term.

Netflix knows its users sign up for one thing and stick around for something completely different. That seems to be the core of their model.

Despite flashy titles like The Irishman or The Queen’s Gambit The majority of Netflix content streamed receives a lot of press coverage and consists of old TV reruns, true crime stories, and vintage titles from decades past.

In that regard, Netflix content seems to fall into two areas:

1. New content to increase subscriptions
2. Old / cheap content to make subscribers pay their monthly fee

This is important in determining if you are a filmmaker targeting Netflix (or some other streamer). Last but not least, it underscores the power that viewership has in relation to film sales, and that the quality of your film alone is far from the only metric that is considered.

As the industry continues to move towards streaming, I can only imagine that this trend will also drive acquisitions in the old studios. In many cases it is.

For filmmakers looking to get a head start in this new paradigm, a focus on viewer size is mandatory.

Whether you’re a filmmaker building audiences, hiring actors with existing followers, or developing intellectual property that has a proven market interest, you can give yourself the upper hand.

None of this is a substitute for a great movie, that should go without saying. At least it can give your film the chance it deserves.

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