‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ Would’ve Been ‘Just as Big’ on Netflix, Says Ted Sarandos: ‘There’s No Reason to Believe That the Movie Itself Is Better in Any Size of Screen’

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in a recent New York Times interview that the 2023 blockbusters “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” would’ve “enjoyed just as big an audience” on the streamer as they did in theaters.

While discussing what type of content isn’t right for Netflix, Sarandos said, “I don’t think that there’s a clean answer because the best version of something may work really well for Netflix but just hasn’t worked to date. There’s some obvious ones, like we don’t do breaking news and that kind of thing, because I think there’s a lot of other outlets for it. People aren’t looking to us for that.”

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The NYT reporter then pointed out the theatrical releases of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” which both had impressive box office runs and spawned the cultural phenomenon “Barbenheimer.” (Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” earned $1.44 billion worldwide, while Universal’s “Oppenheimer” grossed $951 million.)

“Are there things that just don’t feel like they’re in your wheelhouse right now?” the reporter asked.

“Both of those movies would be great for Netflix,” Sarandos said of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” “They definitely would have enjoyed just as big an audience on Netflix.”

He continued, “And so I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that certain kinds of movies do or don’t work. There’s no reason to believe that the movie itself is better in any size of screen for all people. My son’s an editor. He is 28 years old, and he watched ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on his phone.”

In January of this year, Sarandos said Netflix does not plan to change its “strategy or the mix [of licensed and original films]” after Scott Stuber’s exit as film chairman. According to the co-CEO, Netflix’s original movies “are attracting some of the biggest audiences in the world.”

“It’s always going to be that kind of blend of, first window, second window and deep catalog,” Sarandos added. “We think that formula works best to entertain the world.”

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