Did Netflix's movie boss leave because he didn't want to make so many movies?

  • Netflix movie boss Scott Stuber, who joined in 2017, is leaving.

  • Neither he nor Netflix have talked publicly about why he is leaving.

  • But new reports say he clashed with bosses over strategy: how many movies to make, and what kind.

On Monday, when Netflix announced that Scott Stuber, their longtime film boss, was leaving to start his own production company, we wondered what the backstory was.

Now we have the answer. Or, more accurately, one version of the answer: Stuber, who Netflix brought in to ramp up its movie business in 2017, was sick of making so many movies. He wanted to make fewer, better movies.

He also wanted to get those movies into movie theaters, with wide distribution, before they came to Netflix. And his bosses — Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and content boss Bela Bajaria — disagreed.

"That's the narrative emerging via two reports from well-sourced Hollywood pros — Kim Masters at The Hollywood Reporter and Matt Belloni at Puck. Neither story quotes Stuber and cites anonymous insiders, agents, and Netflix rivals. But both have very similar conclusions. Here's Belloni:

In the end, it was a cordial conversation, according to two well-placed sources. Whether Stuber is jumping voluntarily or fleeing his own execution, he, Sarandos, and content chief Bela Bajaria all agreed it was time. Stuber never believed in making 85 films a year. He'd been around long enough—and run another film studio that put out less than a third of that volume—to know that the quality necessarily suffers with that sort of conveyor belt.

Internally, it was no secret that Stuber wanted Netflix to employ a version of the Apple and Amazon film strategies: Fewer releases, maybe 20 a year, some with higher budgets or franchise potential that would be given marketing and meaningful theatrical windows, which would then generate higher engagement on the service. Sarandos and Bajaria—Stuber's boss since last January—wanted none of that, even though Netflix loses many coveted projects over the theater issue. Chris Nolan wouldn't even consider Netflix when he auctioned the right to make Oppenheimer. At Sundance this week, I talked to two separate filmmakers who feared having to take a Netflix deal if no theatrical distributor stepped up.

Reminder: There are a lot of people in Hollywood who have no love for Netflix and/or have incentive to portray Netflix as the Big Bad Company that doesn't make Good Things anymore. On the other hand, Masters and Belloni know their stuff. So, at a minimum, they're telling you what people in their business are saying.

Netflix declined to comment. But it is worth noting that on this week's earnings call, when asked if Netflix needed to change the way it made and acquired movies, Sarandos insisted that Netflix was going to stay the course — and pointed out that the company had just received 18 Oscar nominations.

"We do not plan to change our strategy," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider