Netflix has transitioned from a nifty DVD mailing service to a streaming powerhouse, pumping out original content at a breakneck speed.
But as Netflix continues to soar in popularity, it just might be starting to fly too close to the sun as its recent movies fail to deliver to its well-established reputation. Rather than keep its focus on introducing hundreds of new movies and TV shows, it should make sure its content is actually appealing.
Over the past few months, “Bright,”“The Cloverfield Paradox” and most recently “Mute” all faced disastrous critical receptions, receiving 27, 17, and 10 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes respectively. This trend has also continued into 2018 with the lackluster comedy “When We First Met” and the terrible thriller “The Open House.”
In comparison, three of the biggest blockbusters released in the last three months, “Black Panther,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” were all certified fresh by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, eclipsing the scores of Netflix’s three major draws.
The colossal popularity of original shows like “Stranger Things,” “Black Mirror” and “Orange is the New Black” have given Netflix a prestigious reputation, but the recent trend of misfires in its movie department may be a sign of concern. Instead of proving that they are in the same weight class as the top Hollywood movie companies, Netflix is in danger of slowly establishing itself as a second-rate distributor.
In what could have been a unique and game-changing marketing tactic, Netflix made the decision to hold off all advertising of “The Cloverfield Paradox” until the day of its release. Sadly, the overall result felt more like an excuse to put out a low-quality film and save money trying to sell it.
The problem isn’t that Netflix is taking bold risks with these films either. “The Cloverfield Paradox” is the third installment in a well-known and critically successful franchise and “Bright” starred one of the most popular and well received actors on the planet — Will Smith.
In all fairness to David Ayer’s fantasy cop hybrid, “Bright” was the one outlier in Netflix’s recent releases. While it did poorly with critics, audiences thought otherwise, drawing in 11 million viewers in the first three days of its release and earning an impressive 85 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
— Bright Film (@BrightNetflix) February 10, 2018
This disconnect between critics and audiences is not consistent across the board though. “Mute,” “The Open House” and “The Cloverfield Paradox” were also failures in the audience’s eyes.
Ultimately, online scores are not the official indication of a movie’s quality. Film is a subjective art form and Netflix is a business designed to make money. With its subscriber count higher than ever and continuing to grow, it’s likely more inclined to pay attention to its booming stocks rather than the negative reviews, according to Wall Street analysts.
But if this consumer-driven approach is the route Netflix decides to take heading forward, it could hurt the perception of its brand in the long run. Pandering to mass audiences runs the risk of being seen as lowbrow and the company’s contract with the critic-infamous Adam Sandler isn’t helping.
Maybe Netflix is simply experiencing a brief lull in quality and is poised to bounce back in the future. In 2019, they are set to release a crime film helmed by legendary director Martin Scorsese and starring old Hollywood greats Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
For the time being though, Amazon’s continuous push to stream original content and Disney’s future plans to establish its own streaming service serve as warning signs that the Netflix’s reign might not last forever.
Though Netflix may be known for some really great shows, lately its most recent ventures have flopped. Netflix must consider what it releases instead of just churning out more and more content in the hopes of trying to capture the attention of an unengaged audience.