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Netflix CEO Thinks He Can Bait More Talent With a Few Oscars

Netflix
Netflix

In 2017, Netflix will spend $6 billion on original content (up $1 billion from 2016), including 20 new TV shows and, pending negotiations, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited mob drama The Irishman — which could finally earn Netflix a spot at the Oscars. That’s certainly a goal, but according to Reed Hastings, it’s not the only goal for the streaming giant, which has struggled to find balance between quantity and quality despite massive spending. The CEO and co-founder of Netflix recently offered some insight into their plans for original content, and threw some shade at theater chains for good measure.

Hastings spoke with reporters late last week (via The Belfast Telegraph) at the company’s headquarters in California, where he explained that not everyone in the film industry is excited about making original content for Netflix:

Some talent is excited about it. Some talent is willing to work with it if we pay them enough. Other talent does not want to be on the cutting edge, say like Kevin Spacey and David Fincher were with Netflix and House of Cards.

You really have to admire Hastings’ confidence in completely negging the actors who have yet to appear in a Netflix Original film. That’s definitely one way to handle it. Another way? Winning a few awards. Hastings confirmed that Netflix is still gunning for an Oscar nomination, which he thinks will attract more “talent.” It’s all a part of the Circle of Life, or, as Hastings calls it, the “creative ecosystem”:

If we do well for our talent in those shows, the talent is more interested in working with us. It’s something we’ll definitely invest in. Not because it matters that much to consumers, but it helps in the creative ecosystem

Despite Hastings’ insistence that Netflix isn’t “anti-theater,” the company doesn’t exactly have the best working relationship with — or attitude toward — theater chains. But in order to win an Oscar (and make more good movies), they kind of need movie theaters to play these films, which some have been unwilling to do because unlike Amazon (which earned seven Oscar nominations and won three awards), Netflix refuses to honor the 90-day window between theatrical and streaming release. They are essentially encouraging consumers to avoid the theater entirely; why go to the theater when you can spend less to watch the same movie at home?

Hastings places the blame on “the big theaters like Regal and AMC,” which he accuses of not playing fair, saying they “refuse to share with us. They refuse to give options to the customer.”

According to Variety, Hastings also insisted that the company is “fundamentally about growing the movie business.” Their mission, he says, is to “unleash film.” And though he claims they’re not against theater chains, Hastings was quick to diss his competition:

How did distribution innovate in the movie business in the last 30 years? Well, the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it.

Personally, I’m concerned about Hastings’ Vitamin D levels under all that shade.

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