During the early hours of this morning, Netflix made a very special and very surprising announcement: The Cloverfield Paradox was being added to the streaming service. What was most surprising about this news was the fact that the arrival of the film was imminent.
If you open up Netflix this morning – go on, I’ll wait – you will see the new Cloverfield film is there, ready for you to view at your leisure. You weren’t expecting it, but it’s there anyway.
Sure, it’s no surprise a new Cloverfield movie was being released this year; and heck, rumours had started to circulate that it might arrive on Netflix at some point in the not too distant future; but no one knew it would be now. No one knew this new movie – the third in the Cloverfield series – would drop, without warning, on a global basis today!
Netflix has taken a movie that very few people were talking about and has suddenly turned it into a huge event. Forget expensive marketing, extensive press campaigns and red carpet premieres, Netflix has just created a huge buzz simply by dropping a 30-second trailer and announcing the associated movie ‘will be with you in a jiffy’.
How much did Warner Bros. spend marketing Justice League? How much will Disney shill out over the next four months to promote the heck out of Solo: A Star Wars Story? Whatever the cost, Netflix has done all the leg work of promoting a blockbuster with just one announcement.
OK, so it’s not quite the same. Not everyone has access to Netflix and more importantly watching a movie via the streaming service isn’t quite the same as putting the movie into theatres, where it can rake in millions of dollars at the worldwide box office, but still this latest move has set a new precedent.
What other films does Netflix have up its sleeve? Is there a future Jurassic World movie waiting in the wings that we don’t know about? Could the next Fast and the Furious movie suddenly crop up out of nowhere?
The point is this is a game changer – both for Netflix and the movie business as a whole. Superhero movies, Star Wars films and a few big blockbusters are what’s keeping the movie industry afloat right now, as more and more people opt to skip the cinema experience altogether. Netflix has plugged that gap by offering ground breaking TV shows as well as the odd original movie here and there. But the movies that have made their way onto Netflix have usually been lesser known affairs, not pieces of a big franchise.
By dropping a film from the Cloverfield Universe – a series connected to J. J. Abrams no less – Netflix has taken further steps towards placing big blockbusters onto the streaming service, without the need for a big screen release. How long will it be before the next?
A lot of good movies struggle at the box office nowadays, especially those not connected to a huge franchise – would some of these movies be better off by not appearing on the big screen altogether?
No doubt studios will now be looking a little more closely at Netflix and making decisions about where, when and how they distribute and market their films. The game has changed.