As Hollywood descends on Sundance this week to revel in small-budget fare with big-theater dreams, Netflix just made its own move in the Indie scene, striking a deal with the Duplass brothers for four small-budget movies to be produced exclusively for the streaming site.
Those who aren’t Hollywood insiders may not know much about the tandem film makers, but you’ll likely know Mark Duplass, one of the irreverent stars of the semi-scripted FX comedy, The League, as well as the star of a few smaller feature films like Safety Not Guaranteed.
Mark and brother Jay got their start in the business writing and directing well-received shorts that lead to the feature, Puffy Chair, which made the rounds at Sundance and SXSW in 2005, and was eventually acquired by Netflix. The duo’s collaboration later ballooned into larger-budget features with some significant star power, including Jeff Who Lives at Home (Jason Siegel, Ed Helms), and Cyrus (Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly). The two are also collaborating on a new show for HBO, Togetherness, with Mark in the leading role.
According to The Hollywood reporter, the Netflix deal is for four films with no specified timeline. Netflix’s always-vocal Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, said of the deal, “Independent films are an important part of our DNA, and we plan to make these films more globally accessible than ever.”
Just a short while ago, such a deal would have been a surprising move for the streaming site, but Netflix has been steadily moving into the feature film business, inking a similar four-picture deal with Adam Sandler. The company has also announced plans to release the sequel to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which is slated to premiere in IMAX theaters and on the streaming site simultaneously. Not to be outdone, Amazon has made a similar move into feature films, recently announcing the company will produce around 12 films a year for theaters, which will then be streamed on the site around 4-8 weeks after release.
While headlines like these are becoming old hat for Netflix, this has been a big week for the service. After announcing subscription numbers that were higher than anticipated in its quarterly earnings report, Netflix’s often volatile stock shot-up around 17 percent on Tuesday and has continued to make substantial gains this week, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the company announced plans to expand its service to land in 200 countries in the next two years.
As Netflix makes plans for global domination, Sarandos is continuing to ensure there’s plenty of eye-candy being produced in-house to share with the world.