Netflix Isn’t Giving Up on First-Run Films Yet

Netflix traded in its right to first-run films in exchange for a larger streaming catalog. But the company hasn’t totally given up on first-run films yet.

The Expendables

A few months back, word came out that Netflix was wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to build up its young streaming video catalog. But given the relatively low revenue from the streaming catalog, content providers (movie studios) were reluctant to offer much in the way of content–so Netflix made them an offer.


Other venues, including the likely bankrupt BlockBbuster, would have exclusive access to movies in their first 28 days (at least from Warner Bros.). In exchange, Netflix would be able to secure a larger, deeper catalog to entice more customers and offer an improved service.

Despite a few scattered protests, the public has generally agreed that Netflix made the right decision. But the decision isn’t exactly final–the relationship between Netflix and the studios is fluid, ebbing and flowing with changes in technology and consumer taste, and nothing’s written in stone. That’s why it’s not totally surprising that Netflix negotiated a deal with a studio to secure first-run films.

That studio, Nu Image/Millennium, is certainly on the smaller side, but it’s not exactly a garage-run operation, either. The studio is responsible for lots of top action movies, like The Expendables, Rambo, Righteous Kill, Son of No One, and Stone, as well as doubtless clunkers like Today You Die (a latter-day Steven Seagal vehicle).

The deal proves that Netflix is willing to keep trying new things, to renegotiate deals, and to continue to make Netflix the best movie distribution service the world has ever seen. Perhaps the larger studios will see how profitable this particular deal can be, and come around on their own. Either way, it’s good news for Netflix subscribers (particularly if they’re fans of the Jean-Claude Van Damme ouvre).

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law