Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos spoke at length about the company’s movie plans during a question-and-answer session with analysts days ago, following the streaming giant’s third-quarter earnings presentation on October 18. His remarks came in the wake of constant press scrutiny over the disastrous reviews that some Netflix movies get, and the unique theatrical releases that the company arranges for others.
Among the highlights of Sarandos’ comments: Don’t expect much of a shift for the foreseeable future in terms of how Netflix movies are released, nor the big bucks that the company shells out for them.
“Film is incredibly important to our members,” Netflix’s third-quarter shareholder letter adds. “We expanded into original film in 2016 because producing our own movies across all budgets and genres has advantages over the next best alternative: Only licensing from other studios in the first pay TV window (the “pay-one” window).”
Top Netflix movies
For a current snapshot of how Netflix’s movie strategy is continuing to fare at the moment, beyond comments like those, we can also turn to the company’s latest Top 10 data. It shows, among other things, which movies (Netflix’s or not) are currently among the most popular on the service.
The two Netflix films listed below — The School for Good and Evil and The Stranger — are both pretty recent additions to the streaming giant’s library. Moreover, they’re both currently ranked as the number one and two movies, respectively, on Netflix in the US (as of Monday, October 24). We’ve included details about each Netflix movie, along with their current Rotten Tomatoes scores, below.
#1: The School for Good and Evil
Rotten Tomatoes: 36% critics’ score, 70% audience score
According to Netflix’s logline for The School for Good and Evil (based on the internationally best-selling series of books by Soman Chainani), best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of a modern fairy tale when they go off to an enchanted school that trains young heroes and villains to protect the balance of good and evil.
Directed by Paul Feig, the cast here includes Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Rob Delaney, Patti LuPone, Rachel Bloom, Kerry Washington, and Charlize Theron.
“In the village of Gavaldon,” the Netflix summary explains, “two misfits and best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), share the unlikeliest of bonds.
“Sophie, a golden-haired seamstress, dreams of escaping her dreary life to become a princess, while Agatha, with her grim aesthetic and offbeat mother, has the makings of a real witch. One night under a blood-red moon, a powerful force sweeps them away to the School for Good and Evil — where the true stories behind every great fairy tale begin.”
Sophie gets sorted into the “School for Evil,” run by the villain-like Lady Lesso (Theron), while Agatha winds up in the School for Good, led by the kind Professor Dovey (Washington).
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#2: The Stranger
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% critics’ score, 63% audience score
Another of the biggest Netflix movies available to stream right now is The Stranger, starring Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris and produced by See-Saw Films, Anonymous Content, and Blue Tongue Films.
The movie is built around two strangers who strike up a conversation on a long journey. One of them is a suspect in an unsolved missing person case — while, fittingly, the other is the undercover operative on that very suspect’s trailer. The two men form an uneasy acquaintance in this tightly wound thriller, which also happens to be based on the true story of one of the largest undercover investigations in Australian history.
“I centered the film on people who didn’t know the victim, but who devoted years of their lives — and their mental and physical health — to them; because though violence is the reason for this film, it is not its subject,” writer/director Thomas M. Wright said in an interview included with Netflix’s press material for the movie. “Its subject is the connections between people. That means that, for me, this is a film defined by empathy.
“The ‘Stranger’ of the title could stand for the person responsible for this crime, the victim, those affected by their loss, or the central character in the film — whose name we never learn; or it could stand for the nameless individuals who, in the end, resolve the film.”
More Netflix news: Netflix Top 10: The most-watched shows in the world right now