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Is Anyone Actually Watching Netflix's Original Movies?

Netflix Originals Aren't Bad - They're Just Badly Promoted

Because there aren't many Netflix originals that are heavily buzzed about, the general impression is that they must not be very good. This seems to be erroneous, as Netflix movies like CargoCalibre and 6 Balloons were very well received critically - yet no one's talking about them.

The answer looks like it lies with Netflix's marketing and promotion (or lack thereof) for individual film titles; there are few billboards for Netflix originals (especially in regards to the amount that movie-goers would see for the usual Hollywood blockbuster cinema-bound fare), and trailers are mostly only found online if searched for, or if you're likely to watch trailers in your own time anyway. If you watch trailers on a regular basis, YouTube is likely to choose shorter trailers to be your specific ads that you're able to ultimately skip in '5... 4... 3...'. Netflix trailers for original movies are a big part of this advertising.

If you're unlikely to be a consistent trailer-consumer, the chances of being subjected to a Netflix original film advertisement are considerably less. The company also doesn't run trailers for original movies on national or cable television like the six major movie studios do, again drastically reducing their ability to convince otherwise-amiable film fans to watch their original output.

Related: Only 39% Of Viewers Choose Live TV As Their Default

Netflix Originals As Modern Day Direct-to-Video Movies

Avengers: Infinity War screenwriters Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus recently took to Kevin Smith's movie fan podcast with Castle Rock writer Marc Bernardin Fatman on Batman to wax poetic about the current state of the film industry, and in doing so were asked about the quality of Netflix Originals. A fan framed his question (around the 1:42 mark) with disappointment in auteur fare such as David Ayer's Bright, and the query being why the quality of Netflix Originals was subjectively low; especially when considering the freedom to execute their intended vision; and in comparison to Netflix original long-form shows, which have by and large been critical and commercial darlings.

The soundbite that came back from Christopher Markus revealed his theory that Netflix Originals are essentially the modern-day equivalent of Direct-to-DVD releases;

"Well, I have not been at Netflix, spoken to Netflix... my theory... is that the shows are made on purpose to be put on Netflix and my other theory is that some of the Netflix movies are the present-day equivalent of direct-to-video so that they wound up on Netflix. They didn't go 'we have this brilliant idea and we are going to make it here on Netflix'."

Stephen McFeely was quick to jump in and state that they hadn't seen any of the Netflix original movies, so by implication they're unqualified to comment on the quality of said movies. However, the sentiment stands, and it can be argued that Netflix have been harvesting original movies - providing homes to those productions that lack distribution, or buying them off other distributors entirely - such as in the case of Andy Serkis' high-profile Mowgli origin story, and his upcoming Animal Farm adaptation.

There's a bad connotation that comes with Markus' theory, in that anyone who will remember the halcyon days of Blockbuster Video will attest that a film that never received a theatrical release back in the late 90s/early 2000s probably wasn't considered to have deserved one by the major studios. The counterpoint here is that Netflix is predominately a home entertainment company; it stands out from the VOD pack with its large budgets and ability to procure original movies with impeccable talent and buzz surrounding them. However, the streaming service is in serious need of a way to get the word out about these movies, because the value of having 50% original content is severely diminished if it's content that people have never even heard of.

More: Netflix: 15 TV Shows And Movies You Didn’t Know Were Coming In August

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