We learned yesterday that Netflix is partnering with legendary low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman to produce online miniseries Splatter. And viewers get to vote on which characters live or die on the episodes, which premiere Oct. 29, Nov. 6, and, Nov. 13.
The mystery left unanswered in the news is where Netflix is going with all of this.
But the company tells us this is not a harbinger of its filmmaking future, nor is it a signal that the movies-on-demand company is pushing aggressively into social networking. It's more like a marketing push. "I wouldn't say this would signal anything that's radically different from the Netflix model that we have now," says Netflix vice president of corporate communications Steve Swaysey. "We are a great film distributor. That's what our goal is going to continue to be." Besides, he added, "There are others that would do social marketing better than we would ever be able to."
Netflix is, however, planting its flag in the fertile ground of streaming online video, an area where it's spent big. Swaysey says offering up Splatter for free is meant to remind subscribers and future potential subscribers that Netflix is all-in when it comes to offering movies online. It's a follow up to the company's recent free stream of The Wizard of Oz, which was pushed to users of PCs, Macs, and Xbox Live—Splatter will go out to users of the gaming console again, too.
But did producing its own miniseries cost an arm and a leg? Swaysey wouldn't say exactly how much Netflix spent on the project, but likely not a lot. Corman set a record for the shortest shooting schedule for a feature film (two days) with his original, 1960 version of Little Shop of Horrors. (Now 83, this is his first online film.) "He's the king of the B-movie," Swaysey says, adding that Splatter's budget is nowhere near the "many, many millions that go into a typical Hollywood production."
Put simply, Swaysey says, "The goal for Netflix is continue to raise awareness that you can continue to watch great content on your computer as well as your TV."