A Report Said Netflix Wants To Make Movies ‘Cheaper’ And ‘Less Frequent.’ What Head Honcho Ted Sarandos Has To Say

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Netflix just wrapped up its first quarter of 2024 and it seems like they are making some major strategy changes. Dan Lin was recently named the chair of Netflix Films, and he will likely be redirecting the focus of the movies made at Netflix going forward. Recent reports suggest that Lin will be aiming to make films that are less expensive and minimize the catalog of new releases on the platform. CEO of Netflix Ted Sarandos recently commented on these reports during the Q1 earnings call, clarifying the direction he sees movies at Netflix going in.

After Dan Lin was appointed at Netflix, The New York Times ran an article outlining the new goals for movies at Netflix. The article claimed that instead of focusing on auteur-driven titles as the legacy streamer has done in the past -- like the very expensive Martin Scorsese film The Irishman, and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog -- the platform was going to refocus their content to be more audience-centric, focusing on crowd-pleasers. The publication also suggested that Netflix would be trying to decrease their spending on original films, making fewer movies with smaller budgets.

Ted Sarandos disputed this during the Q1 earnings call, saying the company had no interest in making less content, only better movies. He said (via The Motley Fool):

I would send you back to that New York Times article because that was not a quote from Dan. And I would say that -- nor did we participate in that article. I would say, just to be clear, there is no appetite to make fewer films, but there is an unlimited appetite to make better films always.

Sarandos also contradicted the report that Netflix would be turning away from auteur-driven projects. He clarified that the “audience centric” viewpoint Lin would be bringing was more about diversification. He claimed that the streamer wasn’t limiting its scope, but trying to expand into making even more different kinds of films, rather than scaling back from artistic interests. He explained:

Even though we have made and we are making great films, we want to make them better, of course. We're super excited to have Dan join the company. He just joined a couple of weeks ago, and he's joined us running 100 miles an hour. … Bringing Dan on board is a great example of that. We want to have a lot of movies. We want them to thrill our audiences, and they all have different tastes, and we want them all to be great. So, we take a very audience-centric view of what quality is, and Dan knows that from having produced for us.

Based on these comments, it seems like Sarandos has a lot of confidence in Lin and his outlook for the future at Netflix Films. Considering the reported salaries for Netflix execs, this is certainly a good thing.

In addition to original films, it seems like Netflix is also focusing on more acquisitions. The streamer is still the leader amongst its competitors, and big studios are still selling their distribution rights to Netflix despite having their own streaming services. The April 2024 movie catalog has some great films in the mix, so the strategy seems to be working so far.

It’s still to be seen how Lin will elevate Netflix’s dominance in the market, and if his new strategy will differ from its competitors.

If this statement by Sarandos is to be believed, cinephiles have nothing to worry about. The NYT article seemed to suggest that they were interested in cheapening Netflix’s output, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. While fun titles like the next Adam Sandler or Kevin Hart movie are instant hits for the platform and will likely continue to be prioritized, Sarandos still has an interest in prestige content. This year's Netflix highlight reel validates this thinking, showing a mix of all the different movies on the 2024 schedule coming to the platform this year.

This statement is definitely hopeful, but we will still have to wait and see if Lin’s leadership will drastically impact the output at the streamer. For more information on what’s coming to the legacy company this year, make sure to check out our feature on Netflix’s 2024 movie and TV release schedule. It has a number of exciting titles for Netflix subscribers to look forward to, including Glen Powell’s Hit Man and the Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz-led action-comedy Back in Action.