Netflix to launch original movies -- but will they be successful?

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Image Credit: Patrick Harbron/Netflix

After the success of its original series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, Netflix has now decided its next move. In the company’s Q3 Earnings Interview, CEO Reed Hastings, CFO David Wells, and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos confirmed that the company will add original movies to its résumé, doubling its spending on original projects in 2014.

Netflix is already looking at several documentaries, but according to Sarandos, documentaries aren’t the only thing they’re interested in: “On the movie side, I’d keep my mind wide open to what those films would be and what they would look like,” Sarandos said. “And really the driver of it is, like we were able to break convention on television by offering all episodes at once, something that consumers have really loved, we’d like to do more of that in the movie space, in that today we’re held to the traditional pay television model, meaning the movies are not coming to Netflix until they hit pay television, almost a year after they are in theaters. Even though that window is moving, I don’t know that it’s moving aggressively enough for people who really do have experience more in a demand or more on-demand lifestyle around their content. So I think that the more we could be aggressive with windowing by taking more control over the content earlier in the process, that would be good for our members.”

But after launching two successful television series, is now the time for Netflix to be expanding into more original content? Will the formula that made House of Cards successful apply to films? We’re not sure.

House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black have proven that there are advantages to Netflix’s formula, from the big names who are willing to join the quicker-than-usual television projects to the way in which shows are offered all at once to viewers, allowing them to decide for themselves how and when they’ll watch the show. There are no annoying two-week hiatuses, and the shorter seasons are perfect for binge-watching. Plus, one of Netflix’s biggest advantages is its availability. People can watch movies and shows on everything from their televisions to their cell phones.

And although some of these advantages will transfer to original movies, there’s one big factor that won’t: The binge-watching element. With films, there will be no talk of offering multiple episodes all at once. Therefore, it doesn’t feel like a Netflix original movie would differ all that much from a typical movie release, other than the fact that viewers don’t have to pay anything extra to watch it. Then again, missing out on the theater experience might not appeal to some people, no matter how much money it saves them.

The other big characteristic of both House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black is simple: They present us with interesting, complex characters. They’re both well-written television shows. So perhaps, if we look past the binge-watching element of it all, or even the money element, the success of this new venture for Netflix depends on what all ventures really depend on, and that’s quality. If the movies are good and properly advertised (which shouldn’t be a problem), then the viewers will come. It might not be the theater experience, but it is a new experience in the business of movie-watching.

What do you all think, PopWatchers? Will Netflix original movies be as successful as its original series have been?

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