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IT'S A NETFLIX WORLD NOW Susan Morgan - January 15, 2019

[Bird Box | Netflix] The latest viral sensation, “Bird Box” starring Sandra Bullock, is another win for Netflix.

Netflix is changing the way we make, distribute and consume media. Even when they lose, they win. Take their latest viral offering “Bird Box.” Nobody's talking about “Aquaman” half as much as they are meming “Bird Box.” Even as the critics pan the film, the viewership has reached national box office levels. Variety reported that “Bird Box” reached an audience of nearly 26 million viewers within the first week of availability. They got these numbers from Nielsen Ratings, who have been developing a new rating system for online streaming viewership. Even as people harass Sandra Bullock for bad acting on twitter, it’s still another big boon for Netflix.

[Black Mirror: Bandersnatch | Netflix]

And it’s not just “Bird Box.” Also going viral this month was their “Bandersnatch” episode of “Black MIrror.” The self aware, choose your own adventure story has launched youtubers into a frenzy of theorizing the meaning behind each ending, editing together all the secret endings and showing you where Easter Eggs are hidden. Tell me another TV show episode being talked about like this right now?

[Velvet Buzzsaw | Netflix] “Velvet Buzzsaw” is a Netflix Original film starring Jake Gyllenhaal streaming February 1, 2019.

The talent at Netflix is growing, too. Next month Netflix will release a new horror film “Velvet Buzzsaw” and once again John Malcovich will be playing a central character. Jake Gyllenhaal is the lead. A-listers are now as normal to see on Netflix as they are in a Marvel Universe film. And finding better work too. Given the lower threshold for what can be distributed by Netflix, more creative and original content is getting made on this platform then at any of the big movie companies. No one has to prove to Netflix that their film or episodic series will include a 10 billion dollar toy licensing agreement. This really opens writers and directors up to new kinds of stories they can tell and A-list actors, willing to take a smaller paycheck, can participate in that storytelling.

ABQ Studios in New Mexico. Most famous for being the home production lot of “Breaking Bad.”

Back to the big movie companies. Netflix is owning them too. At the end of 2018 it was confirmed that Netflix is buying ABQ Studios, a large sound stage, hollywood type production studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico. ABQ Studios is known for where TV shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and movies like “Maze Runner” and “Sicario” were shot. Now that Netflix owns the best little production studio in the West, what does this mean for other film companies wanting to utilize the place? Netflix is growing into a giant.

[Okja | Netflix] “Okja” was one of the films pulled by Netflix from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival when it was announced that they could not simultaneously release the film to it’s streaming platform.

You may have read stories that Netflix, along with Amazon, were the best performing stocks on Wall Street this decade. Well it’s true. So what other evidence do you need to believe that Netflix is the new way of doing film business? Well, there are still a number of holdouts refusing to give up their gauntlet to Netflix. Last year’s Cannes Film Festival saw a break between the festival and the streaming site. Netflix pulled all of their films from the festival when it was determined that all films up for an award would have to have a first run in French cinemas and then wait three years to be viewed on streaming platforms. This was a direct attack on Netflix and their practices. While the old film Gods of the French Riviera are holding firm to their artistic merits, it does seem like a battle in futility. Exactly who wants the old ways…. besides the old? It’s only a matter of time before Netflix and other streaming sites dominate these areas of film and distribution as well.

2019 is going to be a telling year for the streaming giant. It’s already projected that they will release 90 movies putting them head to head with Disney’s yearly production schedule. They will spend some 3 billion on productions and be filming multiple movies and series from the ABQ Studios. This could be the best year Netflix has had yet.