Biz Break: Netflix flexes its programming muscle

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen pondering ‘Fuller House’ role, Netflix boss says.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos defended the wisdom of his decision to sign Adam Sandler to a multi-picture deal despite the weak domestic box office return of his latest theatrical release, “Pixels.” Sarandos cited the international strength of the Sony release as a good fit for Netflix’s increasingly international audience in a Q&A session with reporters Tuesday morning at the opening of the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen haven’t made a final decision about returning for Netflix’s Fuller House — find out the latest intel on a possible reunion.LOS ANGELES — Netflix boss Ted Sarandos is standing by Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six, which has been plagued by accusations of cultural insensitivity.

Sandler’s box office clout came into question again after a weak opening weekend in which “Pixels” collected $24 million in the U.S. and slightly more than that in overseas markets. Prior to TCA, the duo’s involvement in the revival series was shut down with their rep telling Variety they are focused on their current careers, which includes overseeing their fashion labels. The discord didn’t last long, however, as the actor soon tweeted he worked things out after he had a “sweet talk” with Mary-Kate — though he was unable to convince the twins to sign on.

They said they were protesting its content, which they found offensive to their culture. “We live in a very complicated time with social media and everything where things take on a life of their own very quickly,” Sarandos told reporters Tuesday. “I think when people see Ridiculous Six it will speak for itself in terms of its treatment of American Indians.” According to the actors who walked off, the film’s treatment of female American Indians was particularly off-putting, with character named things like “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra.” “It was a very interesting time in history when there were 120-some folks on that set and one person had a problem and it blew up,” Sarandos added. “It’s unfortunate the way it played out. Nevertheless, Sarandos characterized himself as “thrilled” with the deal he struck last year to bring four titles from Sandler to the streaming service in the coming years. The fortunate thing is that when it comes out, people will see it was unfair.” “Not to give you a defensive answer here, but I definitely don’t have to defend Adam Sandler,” Sarandos added. “Pixels did $24 million domestic opening; did $25 million international. Boyett said, “Although Ashley and Mary-Kate will not be a part of ‘Fuller House,’ I know how much ‘Full House’ has meant to them, and they are still very much considered family. It has been exciting to see how they have built their professional careers, and I support their choice to focus on their fashion brands and various business endeavors.

The cast members “have fallen right back into their roles,” Sarandos dished. “It’s very much in the same spirit, but it’s a modern take on Full House.” The new series follows eldest Tanner daughter D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), now a widow, and her fellow single-mom BFF Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), as they raise their children together. I appreciate their support and good wishes toward ‘Fuller House.’” “Fuller House” will welcome back many original cast members including Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Andrea Barber, Jodie Sweetin, Scott Weinger and Candace Cameron Bure, whose character DJ Tanner leads the new storyline, as an all-grown-up widowed mother of two.

He explained that the rationale for moving so aggressively into originals — Netflix had just two series online a mere 30 months ago — had less to do with the growing amount of competition in the streaming sector and more to do with differentiating the service with content unavailable anywhere else. To highlight the important of Netflix exclusivity, Sarandos noted in response to a question about the Hulu-“Seinfeld” deal that the substantial expense of that content doesn’t prevent the classic comedy from being seen elsewhere, like on TBS and Crackle. “I think there’s a bunch of holes in the exclusivity relative to the economics of that deal,” he said, noting that a simultaneous worldwide release also help curb piracy. Back on the originals front, Sarandos indicated that he continues to be “plugging along” in pursuit of another season of “Arrested Development,” the former Fox sitcom he resurrected in 2014. “It’s a really long, complex deal to make for these guys because talent is busy working on other shows and the show is owned by Fox,” he said. “It is our intent to have a new season of ‘Arrested Development,” and all the negotiations are underway.” In addition, Sarandos confirmed that Netflix’s first-ever original-series co-production, “Lilyhammer,” would not return after three seasons, citing the “economically challenged” dealmaking that would have been required to get more episodes.

With Netflix’s rapidly growing international expansion, Sarandos also touched on the challenge of programming for the streaming service’s first Asian market, Japan. TV content in Japan, he nevertheless professed optimism that he could crack the market successfully. “I’m not fully convinced that the Japanese have radically different taste than the rest of the world,” he said, citing a lack of choice heretofore in Japan that could end up differentiating Netflix there. Earlier in the day, Netflix made a range of original-series announcements including the third-season renewal of “BoJack Horseman” and premiere dates for “Longmire” and Aziz Ansari vehicle “Master of None.”

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