Included in Netflix’s massive 2021 film preview is footage from Chris Appelhans’ animated fantasy movie “Wish Dragon,” featuring the voices of Jackie Chan, Constance Wu, and John Cho. The project was produced for Sony, but now it’s going to be released on Netflix in the new year. It’s hardly the first time Netflix has acquired high profile studio fare, a strategy that got a significant boost after the 2018 acquisition and release of Paramount’s “The Cloverfield Paradox.” Last year, Netflix scooped up Paramount’s “The Lovebirds” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the latter of which is now one of its top Oscar contenders.
In an interview with Variety, Netflix Original Films head Scott Stuber said there’s no plan to slow down on the studio acquisitions while theaters remain closed in 2021. As the executive said, “I think there’s going to be more opportunities [to buy studio films] and conversations based on the films we’ve already acquired from other studios, not just the festival circuit.”
“When those opportunities arise, like they did with ‘The Woman in the Window’ and talent like Joe Wright and Amy Adams who we want to be in business with, we definitely want to look as they come,” Stuber added. “We’ve also acquired some other movies this year like Halle Berry’s directorial debut [‘Bruised’] which I’m really excited about. There are a few acquisitions percolating.”
Similar to “Wish Dragon,” Wright’s “The Woman in the Window” is confirmed to arrive on Netflix this summer after originally being produced for 20th Century Fox before the Disney-Fox merger. Netflix could have also had Lionsgate and WarnerMedia’s monster tentpole “Godzilla vs. Kong” for 2021 had the studios accepted the streamer’s reported $200 million offer for the movie. WarnerMedia opted not to sell the film to Netflix and instead use the title for its new hybrid theater-HBO Max release model. Based on Stuber’s comments, it appears Netflix will be making similar offers as the year continues.
Outside of studio purchases, Netflix will once again be deploying an acquisition team to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to seek out new buys. “We’ve had good luck in the doc space at Sundance, it’s always a really important documentary festival,” Stuber said. “We went in last year and got ‘The Social Dilemma,’ so I think the team will be active there and looking.”
Stuber’s comments make one thing clear: Expect a lot more additions to Netflix’s 2021 slate than what was announced in their preview package.