Netflix's Atrocious Content Deal Silences Critics
Netflix has announced a partnership with The Weinstein Company and we are speechless.
Actually, the actors of The Weinstein Company's lead film, “The Artist,” are speechless. Silent, even. Some might say they don't have any lines whatsoever. I, however, have a few choice words for Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) this morning:
Go back to the drawing board!
While the streaming video and DVD rental service company used to be home to massive film studios like Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Sony (NYSE: SNE), Netflix's latest announcement is worse than the last. For those of you who don't remember, the last major announcement included a partnership deal with DreamWorks (NASDAQ: DWA). Since then, Netflix has announced a couple deals with Miramax and The CW, neither of which are exclusive (Hulu struck similar deals with Miramax and The CW).
Fans of indie or niche films may be very pleased by today's announcement that The Weinstein Company will bring “The Artist” exclusively to Netflix before (or perhaps instead of) coming to other pay TV formats. This means that HBO, Showtime and Cinemax viewers will be left in the dark.
If “The Artist” was a bigger or more prominent film (Academy Award nominations mean nothing to the general public), Netflix might be able to spin this announcement into an impressive amount of positive publicity. But the company is not dealing with an Avatar-sized property. Instead, Netflix has been saddled with a film that has received a lot of buzz because it is a low-tech silent film released at a time when spoken dialogue and special effects are second nature.
Going forward, what can Netflix look forward to from its partnership with The Weinstein Company? Very little. The company's lineup is mostly garbage, save for the occasional Quentin Tarantino classic or the rare indie gem. There are a couple of decent horror flicks on the company's resume, including the severely underrated Scream 4. But there are also several horrific duds, such as Apollo 18, Pulse, and 1408.
Creatively, The Weinstein Company has been accused of crushing more souls than any other studio in Hollywood. For example, the company is widely known for attempting to butcher the film Fanboys by eliminating key plot points.
Fanboys is set in 1999 and is about a group of guys who want to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a copy of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace so that their friend – who is dying of cancer – can see it before he passes. The Weinstein Company didn't like the cancer element and removed it from the film before its release. After fans complained, The Weinstein Company caved and reinserted the cancer storyline.
I understand that Netflix is a corporation – and a desperate one at that. I understand that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has more capital and could use its deal with Coinstar (NASDAQ: CSTR) to bury the Reed Hastings enterprise. But come on people – this is Netflix we are talking about! One short year ago, the firm was on top of the world. I know content deals are hard to come by, but if the company doesn't announce something really important very soon, it's not going to have much of a future.
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