Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
Netflix really knows how to keep this controller in the hands of certain niche audiences.
enlarge Netflix really knows how to keep this controller in the hands of certain niche audiences.

Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

If the movie Edge of the world, which premiered on Netflix this week, seems a little familiar on purpose. It is the story of four children thrown together at a summer camp during an alien invasion, who are faced with the task of carrying the only object that can defeat the aliens through war-torn Los Angeles. It’s a fun ride through childhood friendship forged between killer aliens and saving the world. Does it sound like an 80s-style adventure like what Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment used to make? Well, good.

You may see echoes of Stay with me in the story of four children on a road trip, or the atmosphere of goonies and explorers in the movie’s diverse tweens in science fiction, action-adventure danger. Nerds with a sharper eye will see locations such as Courthouse Square on the Universal backlot (the clock tower in Back to the future) and the Sepulveda Dam used in Escape from New York and the credits of Buckaroo Banzaic† In the past, these kinds of films were a reliable product. “There were a few every summer, and they were great, and I loved them. They were emotionally important to me,” said Zack Stentz, who wrote Edge of the world† “And Hollywood stopped making it.”

But now digital streaming services like Netflix are turning Hollywood’s business model upside down. Small screens can do what big screens can’t.

Stentz had the idea for Edge of the world years ago — that he was able to modernize the kids-on-adventure trope of the 1980s by using summer camp as a tool to separate kids from parents and cell phones. Cue the aliens, and you’re rolling. “I told my agents in early 2016 and they said, ‘Don’t. The studios don’t buy something like that.'” But Stentz, a veteran of the desperately underrated TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and co-writer of Thor and X-Men: First Class, couldn’t shake the idea. He started writing it anyway.

Two-thirds of the way to a finished design, the show Weird stuff touch. “Suddenly everyone remembered how much they loved those 80s movies that… Weird stuff Frankenstein monster from the pieces of ”, says Stentz. He finished his script and took it to a friend at director McG’s production company, and they wanted to set up something at Netflix. That was in early 2017. A year later, the deal was closed.”The crazy thing about Netflix is ​​that when the deals are closed, there are no more 10 concepts with everyone taking notes,” Stentz adds. “They say, ‘OK, go get it.’

And they did. “We didn’t have the resources for a $150 million movie, but we had a 40 day shoot, which isn’t terrible, and an incredibly meticulous director of photography, so when you see it, it doesn’t look like TV,” says Stentz. He’s right, the budget was actually only a tenth of that, but the effects are shiny and the sets look great, and a few long takes of the kids’ point of view as they dodge explosions and bring in aliens like Stentz says, “true cinematic dazzle”.

All of this should make you wonder: wait, why did they make this? Edge of the world is the kind of perfectly fun mid-list movie that, as Stentz says, used to be made, but not anymore. Why is Netflix heating up what looks like cultural leftovers?

Today, major studios – facing declining movie attendance in general – depend on huge franchises, movie universes like the Marvel movies, to make billions of dollars in thousands of theaters around the world. “This pushed out a wide range of genres, formats and styles, even those that were huge hits in the ’80s, ’90s and beyond,” said Matthew Ball, a digital media analyst, in an email. “This change in theater offerings is independent of audience demand and interest in this content. Audiences still love rom-coms (which have largely been scrapped by the major studios) and kid-oriented adventures/thrillers.”

So Netflix kind of hits them where they aren’t. It has to if it wants to support subscriber growth. (Netflix reportedly already has 139 million subscribers worldwide.) The company has the cash to spend — a reported $8 billion for content — but can’t quite compete with the avengers and Mission Impossibles of the world, especially as the major studios are recalling those kinds of movies to create catalogs for their own digital streaming services, such as the soon-to-be-launched Disney+. A Netflix spokesperson declined to make his executives available for comment.

Netflix grabs international TV series, makes its own movies, and generally competes for volume to appeal to a range of tastes, levels of quality and commitment to time in front of a TV. Any long tail, in other words. “HBO develops and produces everything they make themselves, obsessively, slowly, and consciously,” Ball says. “Netflix needs a lot of output. This means hiring experienced talent, like McG, and trusting them to get it done.”

All this opened the door for Stentz to amble in. “It means you have to check your ego a little bit at the door, because your movie won’t debut in 4000 cinemas, 40 feet high,” he says. “But it’s great at the same time because it means a lot more people are going to see it.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a hit; the sheer amount of new shows and movies popping up on Netflix (not to mention Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.) could mean new stuff getting lost in the tsunami. Stentz took the somewhat unusual step of going on Twitter and saying that he would be talking to reporters about his film; that’s usually the kind of thing studio communication folks deal with (or destroy). But now even the definition of ‘hit’ has changed. Edge of the world does not have to surpass Star Wars: The Last Jedic† It just has to be good old-fashioned fun.

This story originally appeared on Wired.com.

By akfire1

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