Netflix wants its own horror icon. While speaking to Collider, the streaming service’s Head of Film, Scott Stuber, revealed that he’s aware of other studios creating successful scare fare from bankable IPs, and he wants Netflix to get in on the action, too. But does he want to acquire an existing character or create a new bad boy from scratch?
“If you look at its history, which I love horror, I’d like us to find our own Freddy Krueger, our own Jason, our own kind of iconic horror character, and we haven’t really honed in on that yet. So the team is working hard on that because I think there’s a real opportunity there. You know, you’ve got so many great characters.”
Stuber’s words leave things open to interpretation. On the one hand, it sounds like he wants Netflix to develop an original villain who rivals the icons of yesteryear. However, his final comment seemingly opens the door to Netflix resurrecting a blast from the past, and I really hope it’s the Djinn from Wishmaster.
You can’t really fault either option. It’s always nice to see a new villain burst onto the scene and slash their way through an exciting spooky saga. The cultural impact of Terrifier’s Art the Clown proves that new characters have mass appeal. That said, established franchises are where the guaranteed money is, though Blumhouse’s recent Exorcist and Halloween movies show that it’s better to let some of them rest in peace.
Then again, Netflix already has a relatively successful horror franchise on its hands with Zack Snyder’sArmy of the Dead, which has produced two mediocre films that generated millions of viewing minutes across the globe. Following its release, the first film – which stars Dave Bautista as a mercenary leader who leads a heist mission during a zombie outbreak – was watched in 75 million households within its first 28 days of release. Sadly, fans won’t get to see the planned spin-off animated series Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas due to the streamer’s bigwigs deciding to cancel it, despite the project being complete and ready to go.
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised. Netflix is the poster child for cancel culture, having axed over 20 shows in 2023 alone — and that’s not even counting the umpteen projects that are quietly waiting to be renewed (pray for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities). Netflix is becoming more synonymous with cancellations than university students and politicians who want to silence opinions they disagree with. However, unlike Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, this year’s other binned projects got to see the light of day before some suit decided they weren’t up to scratch.
No matter one’s feelings on the Army of the Dead franchise, this is terrible news for the artists and creators involved in the animated series. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe every film and TV show deserves to be released after its creation. Netflix shouldn’t be as quick to dive balls deep into greenlighting projects it doesn’t intend to release, so hopefully, the powers that be will learn a lesson from this.
Netflix hasn’t provided a reason for cancelling Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas. Are the executives pulling a David Zaslav and cutting completed projects for tax write-offs? That’s always a possibility in the current entertainment landscape. Or maybe, the animated spin-off series isn’t very good, and Netflix’s top brass doesn’t want to unleash more mediocrity into the world.
These days, Netflix’s higher-ups are of the opinion that they’ve been producing underwhelming content for far too long. After all, Stuber recently admitted that the company has been focused on mass production instead of making films and shows that are actually good. “We were growing a new studio. We’d only been doing this for a few years, and we were up against 100-year-old companies,” he told Variety. “So you have to ask yourself, ‘What is your business model?’ And for a while, it was just making sure that we had enough. We needed volume.”
And volume is what Netflix has given us. While there are some standout gems like The Irishman, The Sandman, and Sex Education, the streamer’s reputation has been sullied thanks to countless mediocre releases, most of which got lost in the ether due to non-existent promotion. Meanwhile, the viewing statistics reveal that subscribers would rather rewatch old episodes of Friends and The Office because they’re more entertaining and comforting than Hollywood and Space Force.
It’s high time that Netflix and other streaming services adopt a quality-over-quantity approach; that much is true. Conversely, it’s frustrating for artists to have their finished projects collect dust because they’re deemed unworthy of release for whatever reason. Netflix isn’t the only guilty party, either. Disney is willing to spend $100 million on a series like Willow, release it on its streaming service, and subsequently remove it without a home media release — and that’s just one example of dozens of projects that endured this fate. If it weren’t for the existence of malware-ridden torrent sites, some of these works would become lost, and we’re seeing it happen in plain sight. Here we are in the year 2023, and Pirate Bay is a better custodian of art than the entertainment conglomerates that actually make it. That’s depressing.
Hopefully, Netflix will find its horror icon, make films and TV shows that see the light of day, and keep them on its platform for the long haul. What’s more, I hope the execs allow creators to take some time and effort to ensure that each project is as good as it can possibly be. Otherwise, what’s the point in even trying anymore?