Yesterday Netflix released a video promoting their 2021 films and it’s the video equivalent of screaming, “I am a golden god!” and diving into a pool from the roof of a three-story house. Netflix is taking a victory lap before anyone else even lined up for the race. Lainey emailed me the video and said, “It’s almost enraging to me how well Netflix is managing.” Of course they’re doing well, they don’t even have to PRETEND to care about movie theaters anymore. Theaters were never the point of Netflix’s operation, so when theaters closed, they didn’t blink. Oh, they still shuffled Mank into a few movie houses to make David Fincher happy, but overall, Netflix is the one film studio uniquely positioned to survive an extraordinary circumstance like the pandemic.
It is impressive, though, how Netflix has mustered on through complicated COVID production rules. So far, they’ve not been affected by a significant production lag even as new precautions add time and money to budgets and schedules. Red Notice, the film starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson, was one of the first movies to resume production last fall after the shutdown, and they wrapped with no drama. They have their own unique risk assessment, named after one of their data scientists, to determine COVID risks of each unique production and what steps should be taken to mitigate potential spread. (Maybe they should share that info with everyone else? Just a thought?) This has enabled Netflix to keep working through spiking cases and quasi-lockdowns around the world, which means they can release AT LEAST one new movie EVERY WEEK this year. The world’s going to end, and Netflix will still be releasing new films.
Some of these movies look really good. There’s Malcolm & Marie coming next month, and I’m sure Red Notice will be entertaining and Kate, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an assassin with 24 hours to live looks interesting. I’m going to watch Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead because Tig Notaro is in it and I will always show up for Tig, but Snyder’s objectivism mixes with zombie apocalypses in really ugly ways—his Dawn of the Dead remake is one of the most cynical modern films I’ve ever seen—so I don’t expect it to be very fun. I DO, however, expect the Fear Street movies to be a blast. I loved those books so much as a kid that I once got kicked out of church for hiding a Fear Street book in the Bible so I could read during the sermon. There will be three Fear Street films, with one set in 1994, one in 1978, and one in 1666. Can’t wait!
Of course, everyone is very curious about Adam McKay’s new satire, Don’t Look Up, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence—her first role in two years—and there are the final films in the Kissing Booth and To All the Boys franchises to satisfy fans. I’m intrigued by Monster, Beauty, and Moxie, and curious about Bruised, Halle Berry’s directorial debut about a female MMA fighter, but the one movie that really jumps out of that montage and makes me sit up is The Harder They Fall, a Western starring Regina King, Idris Elba, LaKeith Stanfield, Jonathan Majors, Delroy Lindo, and Zazie Beetz. Just three seconds of Elba, Stanfield, and King slow walking down a dusty street has me sitting up and paying attention. It looks really cool! Also, I refuse to find out what Escape to Spiderhead is about because I choose to believe it’s about Chris Hemsworth and a bunch of hunks on a boat and nothing else. While other studios will continue to flounder with ever-shifting release dates and hit-or-miss streaming plans, Netflix is set to dominate 2021 with an endless supply of new movies about gunslingers and boat hunks. All hail Netflix, our new cinema overlord. For better or worse.