“Annihilation” is the third in a series of mediocre science-fiction releases
DEPENDING on your point of view, Netflix has established itself either as a haven for intelligent, challenging science-fiction drama, or as a dumping ground for follies which were too obviously flawed to merit a theatrical release.
First, the streaming giant surprised subscribers by adding “The Cloverfield Paradox” to its catalogue with almost no advance warning. Then came “Mute”, a future-noir thriller directed by Duncan Jones (“Moon”, “Source Code”). Both films offer sci-fi devotees a welcome change from superhero blockbusters and “Star Wars” episodes.
Unfortunately, both films are also dreadful: they have 17% and 12% critical ratings on Rotten Tomatoes respectively.
Now Netflix is releasing “Annihilation”, which is written and directed by Alex Garland, the novelist-turned-screenwriter who scripted “28 Days Later” (2002) and “Sunshine” (2007) before making his directorial debut with “Ex Machina” in 2014. It was set to be distributed by Paramount, but when test audiences were nonplussed, and Mr Garland refused to compromise his vision, the studio offloaded “Annihilation” onto Netflix.
… But it is hard to watch “Annihilation” without having some sympathy for those Paramount executives who wanted rid of it.
Why Do the Movies on Netflix Suck? by Joe McGauley, 2016
No matter how much time you spend sifting through Netflix for something to watch, it always seems like you can’t quite find what you’re looking for. I mean, I guess I’ll watchFriday Night Lights again, but seriously, can someone explain why The O.C. is still not on here?!?! Is anyone else sick of these terrible straight-to-video movies? There’s a lot of clutter to wade through to find the really great stuff … and it turns out the reasons behind what makes its way to Netflix (and for how long) are fairly complicated.
It’s a business strategy
Netflix’s success is dependent upon its ability to keep its subscription costs from skyrocketing (although, turns out they’re rising anyway). So it has to carefully weigh how much it’s willing to pay to acquire new titles with how many people are actually willing to watch them.
In the words of Netflix’s Jenny McCabe in a video released by the company in 2013, they have to focus on functioning as an “expert programmer” rather than just a distributor of everything.
Movie studios try to keep the most popular stuff off Netflix
You’ve probably noticed it takes a while for the big blockbusters and Oscar winners to make it to the pages of Netflix. Well, you can blame the studios behind those big, important films, who work hard to squeeze as much cash from them as possible — keeping them in theaters for months, then releasing DVDs and Blu-rays, then selling digital downloads via iTunes and Amazon.
Only then do they hand over streaming rights, which even then can be prohibitively expensive.
If no one else is watching your favorite show, it won’t last long
While Netflix is famously tight-lipped about ratings externally, the company pays close attention to our viewing habits. And while it won’t pull any original shows, it will ditch any that aren’t meeting expectations. Which is why they took South Park away, you bastards.