Netflix has purchased the rights to Paramount's upcoming horror film Eli. The R-rated horror film revolves around a boy that is receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder, who finds out that his house is no longer safe. The film stars Charlie Shotwell as Eli, as well as Lili Taylor, Kelly Reilly, and Max Martini, with Ciarán Foy calling the shots as director.
While Netflix has dozens upon dozens of original TV shows and movies, they have also been buying the rights to several movies from big studios such as Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros. Paramount distributed Annihilation in the U.S., Canada, and China, but put the film on Netflix for the rest of the world. Netflix also purchased the rights to the film Extinction starring Lizzy Caplan and Michael Peña this year, as well as surprising fans by releasing The Cloverfield Paradox directly after Super Bowl LII. While some of the films they purchased got horrible reviews, that doesn't seem to be the reason why Paramount is moving Eli to Netflix.
First reported by Collider, Netflix has acquired the rights to Paramount's Eli, with plans to still release the film in 2019. Collider revealed that Eli had tested well with audiences, but Paramount decided to move the project to Netflix after Paramount Players' head Brian Robbins left Paramount to run Nickelodeon for Viacom. Paramount had given Eli a release date of January 4, 2019, but had removed the release date a few weeks ago. Eli will stream on Netflix in 2019, but the film doesn't have a set release date as of right now.
Even though Netflix has bought the rights to films before, buying a horror movie that is believed to have tested well with audiences is another step in the right direction for the streaming service. Along with the sci-fi thrillers that were mentioned above, Netflix also purchased the rights to Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle from Warner Bros., which had a star-studded cast including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch. While Mowgli has received less than favorable reviews, it was considered a huge step for the streaming service, since it built a strong bridge between Netflix and Hollywood.
Eli was going to be released in a little less than a month, but Paramount still hadn't released any marketing material for the film. Horror fans haven't even gotten a poster or a trailer, but this could've been part of Paramount's reasoning to move Eli to Netflix, along with the fact that the film didn't really provide any big-name actors or a well-known director. Even though Eli might have gotten great reviews with a theatrical release, Paramount avoided risking a box office bomb by selling the film to Netflix instead.