Everyone’s a critic and there is no doubt that the quality of some Netflix Originals, according to many people, leave a lot to be desired. A few of the recent ‘big’ titles have been slated by the critics; movies such as “Bright” and “The Cloverfield Paradox” are probably two that spring to mind in recent months.
Both the above examples received poor reviews from critics although “Bright” fared better with regards to audience reviews. “The Open House” is another example of a Netflix Original that didn’t get great reviews. Compare this to the likes of “Okja“, “First They Killed My Father“, “Gerald’s Game” and “Mudbound” – all of which gained critical, and audience, praise.
Paramount were ready to drop “The Cloverfield Paradox” (or “The God Particle” as it was initially titled) and it was likely to have never seen the light of day. So a film that many have actually enjoyed, just under half of those who reviewed it on Rotten Tomatoes enjoyed it and it has a fairly average 3.1/5 score on RT and 5.7/10 on IMDb. So, according to actual viewers, it’s certainly not a terrible film. But why do Netflix viewers think so differently to the studio that was going to drop it?
It probably simply comes down to money and effort – both for the studio and for the audience. From the studio’s point of view, the effort and money are in marketing a film around the globe and trying to get people to see it in theatres – but if Paramount weren’t convinced that “The Cloverfield Paradox” would recoup that cost then, from a simple business point of view, it made sense for them to drop it. From the point of view of the audience it costs £10-£20 to see a film at the cinema, you need to travel to get there, pay for parking, get snacks etc. It takes effort and costs a fair chunk of time and money to see a movie – after all that money and effort, wouldn’t you feel annoyed, maybe even angry, if the film turned out to be a dud? Would you even go to see it if you saw the critics reviews?
I thought that “Bright” would have been amazing film to see in the cinema, in fact I wrote about how I felt it needed a cinema for the full experience but after seeing how the critics slated it then would it have done well theatrically? I doubt it. I know a number of people who refused to see “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” simply because they based their decision on the reviews of critics. There’s no nuance, it’s simply ‘terrible’ or ‘great’.
But what if you could see that film for, what is essentially, free? In the UK films and series on Netflix are literally ’10 a penny’ – around 5000 titles from £5.99 a month means each title costs you £0.001 a month. Let’s be honest here, does anyone really subscribe to Netflix to watch one specific title? No, you subscribe to access a whole library. It’s very different to paying for a film at the cinema – it’s more akin to a monthly pass at a cinema – pay a set fee and watch as much as you like (if it’s available in the cinema).
This is why, I believe, these allegedly ‘terrible’ films work so well on Netflix. There is less effort for the viewer both in terms of cost and physically being able to watch the movie. Plus, if you’re not enjoying it, then you can press stop and easily switch to something else without having wasted any real amount of money and certainly without having wasted too much effort. That’s a lot harder to do in cinemas after investing so much time, effort and money into the experience. On the flip-side, for those that do enjoy the film then it was certainly worth it and, had it not been released in theatres, these people would never have been able to watch it.
It’s a simple truth that not everyone will like everything. “Each to their own” is a common phrase and it holds true when it comes to Netflix Originals – in fact any movie or series on Netflix. While Netflix do put out some amazing Originals we seem to be falling into the trap of thinking that everything should be critically acclaimed otherwise it’s rubbish. We need to remember that they’re called critics for a reason and when it’s so cheap and easy to watch something on Netflix then why not just make up your own mind? At the end of the day, if you don’t like a particular Netflix Original, there will be people that do.
So, does quality matter? Not really – what matters is that it’s actually available and you can make up your own mind.