Netflix changed the game last night by dropping one of the longest awaited movies sequels ever without any warning. Regardless of whether or not you liked The Cloverfield Paradox its distribution method will forever be considered groundbreaking.
Other studios should take note. Zero marketing was done and outside of the film community that pays attention to such things the average viewer probably wasn’t even aware the movie was supposed to come out. That kind of shock creates an almost instant success as millions went right to Netflix after the Super Bowl and fired up the movie.
Compare that with the standard studio model of dropping upwards of five million dollars or more on just marketing the movie. Netflix paid for a single commercial during the Super Bowl and that was it. It knew its audience and made a calculated risk that it would pay off. Even if the movie somehow failed (a day later its success remains unclear) Netflix wouldn’t lose that much. Not only that it somehow turned what might have been an otherwise forgotten movie into an event.
The question now is whether that model would or could work for larger studios. What would happen if the next Mission Impossible film just appeared in theaters one day? No press, no announcement of filming, nothing. It’s a guaranteed gamble and probably wouldn’t work if used too often but it does create an element of surprise that’s been lacking at the cinema lately.
In the age of nearly inevitable spoilers the idea of going into a movie totally fresh would probably welcomed by most audiences. For example, Avengers 4 doesn’t come out for over a year but I can already tell you at least some of what is going to happen in the movie. That information spoils at least some of the upcoming Infinity War movie which is being released in a few months. By minimizing the marketing studios reduce risk and increase the shear surprise of watching a movie.
The Big Game may have been the Super Bowl last night but Netflix managed to change the face of the industry with a game changer. That is why VOD is leading the market right now, they are willing to take risks the major studios won’t.