Ted Sarandos Says Netflix Has ‘No Appetite to Make Fewer Films’

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos says “there’s no appetite to make fewer films” at the streamer under the new film chief Dan Lin, disputing a recent New York Times article that said Netflix would move forward valuing quality over quantity and audience engagement over auteurs.

Sarandos on Thursday’s Netflix Q1 earnings call responded to a piece this week in the New York Times that said “the aim is to make Netflix’s movies better, cheaper and less frequent.”

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“That was not a quote from Dan, and I would say that nor did we participate in that article. There is no appetite to make fewer films,” Sarandos responded. “But there is an unlimited appetite to make better films always, even though we have made and are making great films, we want to make them better of course.”

Lin joined Netflix at the start of April to replace Scott Stuber, who had been film chief at Netflix for seven years and helped legitimize the company in the eyes of filmmakers. Lin’s track record as the producer of movies like “Aladdin” and “The Lego Movie” franchise suggested to some around town that Lin would be chasing more franchises and hits rather than auteurist Oscar-bait. Earlier this month, Lin re-organized the Netflix film team to be based on genre, rather than budget, leading to a handful of layoffs. And the NYT article also suggested that Netflix sources said Lin wants to be more aggressive in developing the company’s own material as a means of quality control rather than wait for producers to come to them.

Sarandos on the call defended Lin’s track record as someone who produced both the live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series for Netflix and the Oscar-nominated “The Two Popes,” and reiterated that the “strategy remains variety and quality.”

“We’re super excited to have Dan join the company. He just joined us a couple weeks ago and he joined us running 100 miles an hour,” Sarandos said. “Bela [Bajaria] has said this publicly, our strategy remains variety and quality, and she’s doing an amazing job bringing new fresh thinking to our content and our content organization, 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, they all have different tastes, and we want them to be great. So we take a very audience centric view of what quality is and Dan knows that from having produced for us.”

The New York Times piece gave the example that several directors who originally made movies for Netflix like Martin Scorsese, Maggie Gyllenhaal, or Scott Cooper are now working elsewhere. It also claimed Netflix declined to bid on a short story from Netflix staple Millie Bobby Brown, that it was demanding budget cuts on a new film from “All Quiet on the Western Front” director Edward Berger, and that it was no longer moving forward with a new film called “Aurora” by director Kathryn Bigelow, who reportedly left the project a few months ago.

Netflix added over 9 million subscribers this past quarter, bringing them just shy of 270 million globally. But this will be the last year such quarterly subscriber updates will be reported by Netflix, the streamer also announced to investors today.

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