Only days after Netflix surprise-released Paramount’s feared flop The Cloverfield Paradox, the online platform has bought the rights to the Michael Peña, Mike Colter, and Lizzy Caplan-starring alien invasion film Extinction, a movie that’s been sitting on Universal’s shelf for months. I’m starting to notice a trend here.
Extinction, which was first announced early last year, stars Peña as a man who has a recurring dream that his family is going to die... then the aliens come. During the invasion, he discovers that he not only has the power to save them, but possibly also the whole world. It had Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer attached and everything seemed on track for the film’s release. Then, out of nowhere, Universal pulled it from its schedule without explanation. That is, until Netflix saved the day, according to Variety.
This new story matches what happened with The Cloverfield Paradox just recently. Netflix reportedly paid at least $50 million for the film over the holidays, something Paramount was happy to do because it was afraid the less-than-stellar film would bomb at the box office. If this activity continues, Netflix could be positioning itself as a new home for studios’ shelved flicks and potential flops.
This doesn’t sound like a bad deal, in theory. Netflix gets the exclusive release rights without having to make the movies, and studios can make up costs by getting a sweet paycheck and avoiding expensive marketing campaigns. In a similar move, while Alex Garland’s upcoming scifi thriller Annihilation is still getting theatrical releases in the US, Canada, and China, Netflix will be in charge of its international distribution.
The new idea may work but it does raise the question about the long-term quality of Netflix films. If this trend continues, Netflix could wind up as a dumping ground for films deemed not good enough for the big screen. That might be profitable, but it doesn’t sound very appealing for subscribers.
Netflix is planning to release Extinction, directed by Ben Young, later this year.