Hollywoods gyldne skraldespand

Ud over både flere nye tv-serier og nye sæsoner af populære tv-serier satser Netflix som bekendt også meget på spillefilm.

Man forsager bevidst visning i biograferne modsat streaming-konkurrenten Amazon, der med Amazon Studios spiller pænt med på biografindustriens præmisser og udvikler spillefilm, som får almindelig biografdistribution, før de vises som streaming.

Netflix har, ved at se på deres big data, analyseret sig frem til, at vi abonnenter ganske vist er vilde med deres tv-serier, men vi vil gerne jævnligt holde en serie-pause og slappe af med en traditionel spillefilm – måske en aften, hvor vi foretrækker et koncentreret drama, der afvikles og afrundes på et par timer med høj production value.

Derfor bruger Netflix penge på både selv at producere film og på at indkøbe film, der bringer helt nye typer af distributionsaftaler ind i filmindustrien.

Netflix vil under ingen omstændigheder stille deres egne film til rådighed for biografdistribution, og det kan der være mange interessante grunde til. Netflix’ officielle udmelding er, at deres abonnenter til hver en tid skal have deres film stillet til rådighed, straks de er færdige, og selskabet vil ikke lade streaming-abonnenternes penge bruges til, at biograferne skal tjene penge.

Jeg har tidligere skrevet her på Ekko om Netflix’ satsninger på film, og det er et tankevækkende faktum, at indtil videre har de fleste af deres film ikke været anmeldersucceser, for at sige det mildt.

Hvis man ser bort fra de to film, der deltog på Cannes-festivalen i 2017, Okja og The Meyerowitz Stories, har de fleste fnyst hånligt af rædsler fra Adam Sandler, en kikset Brad Pitt-film og en velproduceret, men banal action-fantasy-film med Will Smith, den 90 millioner dollar dyre Bright.

Ikke desto mindre har Netflix bestilt fire nye Adam Sandler-film, og der kommer en opfølger til Bright. Netflix har med deres big data åbenbart kalkuleret sig frem til, at lige meget hvad anmelderne siger, er der et passende stort og hengivent publikum til disse film blandt deres 120 millioner abonnenter over hele kloden.

Men ud over at Netflix fortsætter med at investere i deres egne film, og endda har en stor Martin Scorsese-film på vej, er der på det seneste blevet afprøvet bemærkelsesværdig distribution af større Hollywood-film. Her fungerer Netflix nærmest som en gylden skraldespand for store film, der for Hollywood-selskaberne er endt med at blive alt for risikable til en storstilet biografdistribution.

Gylden, fordi Hollywood-studiet sikres nogle rigtige menneskepenge for film, der ellers nærmest var endt med at bliver betragtet som bedst at smide i en skraldespand. Mest markant er eksemplet med Paramount-filmen Annihilation, der har global premiere på Netflix 12. marts, mens den i USA siden 25. februar har været vist i over 2.000 biografer. Filmen fik også biografpremiere i Canada og Kina.

Men hvordan kan en visning på Netflix kun sytten dage efter verdenspremieren i amerikanske biografer hænge sammen?

Paramount har tabt styrtende med penge på film som mother!, Suburbicon og Downsizing, og sporene fra Warner Brothers’ kæmpeflop med Blade Runner 2049 skræmmer, så en åbenbart intellektuelt krævende science fiction-film som Annihilation blev tidligt anset som økonomisk farefuld, selv om den byder på stjerner som Natalie Portman og Oscar Isaac og er skabt af manden bag Ex Machina, Alex Garland.

Filmen testede dårligt. Publikum kunne ikke finde ud af den, og produceren David Ellison forlangte en række ændringer, der kunne gøre filmen lettere at fordøje. Men han kunne ikke få gennemtrumfet det, da Alex Garlands medproducer, Scott Rudin, havde final cut, så Garland fik sin vilje med filmen.

Nu kan han i stedet begræde, at hans film, omhyggeligt skabt til det store, flotte biograflærred, ikke bliver vist i en biograf i hans hjemland England. Til gengæld kan stort set hele kloden se den via Netflix fra 12. marts.

Annihilation har kostet 55 millioner dollars, og den kom ganske rigtigt til at gå virkelig skidt i amerikanske biografer trods fine anmeldelser. Fremfor at begynde at overveje, om den var værd at lancere på det europæiske marked, overlod Paramount den til Netflix, der betaler, hvad der svarer til cirka halvdelen af filmens budget på de 55 millioner dollars.

For Netflix er det formentlig rigtigt billigt.

Her får de vidtrækkende eneret til en fin spillefilm for omkring 27 millioner dollars frem for at bruge 90 millioner dollars på selv at få lavet en film som Bright. Netflix har jo kun det ene, simple mål hele tiden at gøre sig så lækker over for de 120 millioner abonnenter, at de ikke siger op. Sådanne bemærkelsesværdige filmaftaler er et effektivt middel til målet og et mindre greb ned i lommen med de otte milliarder dollars, som Netflix vil bruge på indhold i 2018.

The Cloverfield Paradox - produceret til biograflærrederne, men endte på de +120 millioner skærme hos Netflix kunder.

The Cloverfield Paradox er et andet paradoksalt eksempel på en ganske stor film med et budget på 45 millioner dollars, der var så forvrøvlet, at den til trods for højt produktionsbudget og meget fine skuespillere blev betragtet som uegnet til biografpremiere.

Paramount valgte derfor at lade Netflix rive et stort stunt ud af den ukendte film: en overraskende reklame under Super Bowl med budskabet: “Se filmen på Netflix lige efter kampen.” Så slap man også for at lade anmelderne se filmen før udgivelsen. Og Paramount fik formentlig de fleste af pengene hjem for filmen uden at ofre biografvisning og markedsføring på den.

Denne udvikling bliver uhyre interessant at følge. Er det her mon bare nogle enlige svaler eller en ny tendens, hvor film, der bare er det mindste kreativt og intellektuelt udfordrende for biografgængerne, helt vil forsvinde fra de store lærreder?

Ender biograferne med kun at kunne tilbyde film, der er lige så letfordøjelige som popcorn og cola? Superhelte, der kæmper om de store biograflærreder i endeløse rækker af prequels og sequels, et par årlige store animationsfilm og i ny og næ en vellykket dansk komedie eller dansk psykopatkrimi?

Vi kan så vælge at blive hjemme og samle biografernes spildte talent op af den gyldne Netflix-skraldespand.


Dette indlæg er oprindeligt publiceret hos Filmmagasinet Ekkofilm


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