Filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass have signed a four-movie deal with Netflix. We are in the middle of an age of disruption for the film industry, with streaming outlet Netflix having led the charge which has permanently altered the way audiences consume their entertainment. Netflix's distribution model has had its share of notable hits (Bright), surprises (The Cloverfield Paradox) and relative letdowns (War Machine), but it has proven itself unafraid of taking risks.
Early on in Netflix's exploration of the exhibition side of the industry, the company's first theatrical acquisition was the Duplass brothers' 2005 debut The Puffy Chair. Since then, the prolific filmmakers have seamlessly moved between writing, directing, and producing their signature indie films such as Jeff, Who Lives At Home and Baghead as well as taking various acting roles in more mainstream fare like The Mindy Project and HBO's Togetherness (which the brothers also executive produced), along with creating the anthology series Room 104.
Related: Room 104 Renewed for Season 2
Now, Variety reports the the Duplass brothers have signed a deal which gives Netflix the exclusive rights to their next four movies. The first of these is an as-yet-untitled film starring Mark Duplass and Ray Romano from Blue Jay director Alex Lehmann, which is about "a bittersweet bromance and centers on themes of friendship, mortality, and made-up sports." According to the Duplass brothers:
“Turns out when you make films for Netflix, millions of people all over the world watch them. This is not a terrible thing for an independent filmmaker. As Netflix continues to grow and develop new ways to reach viewers, we couldn’t be more thrilled to grow our partnership.”
If any filmmaking team can be said to have truly embraced the streaming dynamic, it would be Mark and Jay Duplass. Marquee stars and directors have essentially dabbled in providing content for the streaming behemoth, such as Brad Pitt in War Machine and Bright director David Ayers, but the results have been decidedly mixed. The Duplass brothers' projects have a very different, low-key tone to them, and their expectations for their kind of work seem to be in the same low-key spirit. Netflix also produced their documentary series Wild Wild Country, which will be available for streaming this March.
With Martin Scorsese's The Irishman still on the horizon - a gangster epic about the supposed assassin of Teamster fixer Jimmy Hoffa which stars Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, and which features some radical attempts at digital de-aging - and Marvel's Netflix TV series still going strong, it is heartening to see Netflix embracing the indie dynamic of filmmakers like Mark and Jay Duplass. As Netflix's growth continues unabated and with more competitors entering the streaming fray, keeping creators like the Duplass brothers in the fold may be a signal that the company wants the critical love heaped on rivals like Amazon Studios (which has Oscar nominations and/or wins for movies like Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick to its credit).