Shake-up at the Netflix Film Corral
Peeling the glass onion of Scott Stuber's sudden departure — and the Netflix movie project to date
Why is Netflix making movies?
We don’t even know the answer to that question, nor do we know what success is for a Netflix film. That’s the problem with trying to figure out “what went wrong.” As with all big changes at Netflix, it feels like we’re trying to analyze a game without knowing all the rules.
Was the fate of the universally liked Scott Stuber the result of a traditional power struggle among studio rivals? Or the sign of changing corporate priorities? Is Netflix now down on film? Are its leaders down on these films? Were they up on them before this?
Or is almost seven years just the right amount of time in a job as complicated and demanding as this?
At the bottom is the unknowable question: What were Netflix’s expectations for the film division? By any metrics known to we earth-bound mortals, spending this amount of money on this many “TV movies” seemed unhinged. But given that the company has been doing it for almost a decade, this filmic barrage must have fit in some plan. Did it stop fitting?
Netflix’s film strategy has always been a riddle, and its intermittent efforts to explain itself only ever deepened the mystery. So how are we to evaluate how Stuber performed in that context?
How you answer that depends on how you define success, whether that’s winning subscribers, retaining them, competing for gold trophies, or being a meaningful part of the cultural conversation. Head of film at Netflix may be Hollywood’s most impactful film job. No film studio head has ever had the sheer tonnage of green light power that this one brought with it. Wherever goeth Stuber, he will not have this much resting on his shoulders again.
So what brought an end to his run?