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This week, as a couple looking forward to getting married, Netflix sent out “save the date”. It appeared in the form of a sizzling video narrated by Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” and showed clips from all the big movies the streaming service will release this year. Was it… normal? Like, of course, I’ll watch it Mining a sequel where Chris Hemsworth throws an axe, and one with Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill with a truly awful haircut. Maybe that Zack Snyder sci-fi gizmo. But other than that, these films don’t seem to be awe-inspiring or, as Rebecca Alter said, put it up for the Vulture“everyone feels even more somehow mundane, like versions of films on the Kirkland label.”
Is it really bad? No. Action and romantic comedies are fun! Netflix doesn’t have as many franchises as Disney, so it has to fill its airtime with films that people can get interested in and subscribe to. Hence, B-movies start with A-list stars Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher in a bizarre film from the writer 27 dresses (To you or to me)! Gal Gadot is doing something Salt item (Heart of stone)! Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in the sequel Murder Mystery (Murder Mystery 2)! (Forgive you for not remembering what the first part of the last was.)
But when you’re Netflix, you set the tone by creating cultural artifacts from the era. Of course, every studio should release a few flawless films that please people a year, but one of the first promises of Netflix – and streaming in general – was that it would provide a platform for independent films, for the wicked and the weird. Yes, those movies still exist on Netflix somewhere, but they’re not the ones that get sizzled in clips. If these are the must-see films of 2023 that viewers should set their watch to, then this is already shaping up to be a pretty successful year.
Watching this week’s Netflix teaser feels even edgier. Not because this week is Reed Hastings resigned as co-CEO of Netflix, but because it marks the start of the Sundance Film Festival. In previous years, Netflix and Amazon have appeared with their checkbooks open, ready to give the top dollar to the next indie darling. Some of this still exists – Amazon raised In my mother’s skin from Ma director Kenneth Dagatan ahead of this year’s festival, but Netflix has moved on to using the festival as a premiere location for its own films, as it did with the Taylor Swift documentary. Miss Americana.
Some of this, of course, is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a time when Sundance and other festivals have been forced to severely restrict or cancel their in-person events, places where films, their creators and stars have gotten the ever-elusive buzz they need to grab attention. streaming service. But now that film festivals are resuming live screenings, go back to your indie rootsseems to have shifted focus to Netflix. Combined with similar shifts at HBO Max, it seems like streaming continues to lose its edge – at a time when it can actually make a difference.