Netflix Becoming More Budget Conscious, Report Says

A report from The Information says that Netflix will be keeping a closer eye on its millions in the future.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, recently told company executives that spending on original content should be more cost-effective. Instead of calculating success by the hype surrounding original Netflix shows, Sarandos wants to shift the focus to actual viewership numbers where the audience size justifies the budgets for in-house productions.

As an example, Sarandos pointed to Netflix’s recent action-drama Triple Frontier starring Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaacs, saying that the film’s viewership did not justify the $115 million price tag.

How will this affect Narnia? Time will tell.

While Netflix is keeping closer tabs on where its dollars are going, it’s also spending more than ever to stay competitive in an industry with new major players like Disney+ entering the field. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of Netflix’s most high-profile acquisitions, and the streaming giant likely has plenty of funds set aside for its Narnia adaptation. On the other hand, this report signals that there may be more pressure for its Narnia series and films to bring in big viewing numbers to validate their budgets.

Will budgeting for big audiences be good for Narnia? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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17 Responses

  1. fantasia says:

    Imho, the more money that’s thrown at a project, the more the focus shifts from making a good story to making a movie with lots of special effect sequences and top-of-the-line visuals. Eye candy. And as we all know, the more candy you eat, the more sick you feel. 😛 Focus on the meat and potatoes of the story. You don’t have to have a gigantic budget to do that.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      Sadly, I agree. 🙁 When Netflix was first announced, I rejoiced because of Netflix’s history of targeting niche audiences rather than the masses. I felt a smaller budget would help more than it would hurt. The past few news nuggets we’ve received have me really concerned that Netflix will want to play everything really safe. Hope I’m wrong.

      • Col Klink says:

        This is changing the subject from Netflix and their budget concerns, but I’ve been wanting to challenge you on something, Glumpuddle. (Not in an angry sounding or competitive way, I hope. 🙂 ) How are the Narnia books not “safe” by your definition? They’re premise of children going to a magical land, overthrowing tyrants and becoming kings is a pretty generic one for a fantasy series. A lot of the creatures (talking animals, fauns, dwarfs, etc) are common in fantasy stories and so are a lot of the plot elements like long lost heirs and spells needing to be broken. The only thing really “edgy” I can think of is that, like Coco, they have to do with the afterlife. I realize that you probably have all the podcasts for this season planned (and one probably recorded) but I think it would be interesting to hear you talk about the elements of Narnia that you consider make it “edgy” or inappropriate for a crowd pleasing adaptation.

        P.S.
        I hate that this comment makes it sound like I think the Narnia books are boring or run-of-the-mill. I don’t feel that way. I just don’t regard them as particularly “avant garde” for lack of a better term.

      • Glumpuddle says:

        Great question, Col. Klink. Indeed, might make a good podcast topic!

        Here are a few quick examples of things I think they might do if they want a “safe” Narnia adaptation:

        1. Minimize the pure joy and atmospheric moments (e.g. Arrival of spring, the girls playing with Aslan, liberating the Telmarine people, the snow dance)
        2. Speed up the pace keep the tension on.
        3. Make the kids the real heroes. Reduce Aslan to just a mentor.
        4. Make Aslan and the villains feel like they have about equal power.
        5. Make the children as reluctant and conflicted as possible.
        6. Remove/minimize anything challenging that requirers some reflection to fully understand (e.g. Aslan being invisible in PC, Bacchus and Silenus, Uncle Andrew not being able to hear the animals speak).

        By “safe,” I basically mean making Narnia resemble other successes as much as possible.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I feel like another question we can ask is if Narnia really needs a giant budget? Like obviously we don’t want things to look fake, but at the end of the day most people will be viewing from a laptop, phone, or other small screen. While IMAX can really show off the effects in say, Dr. Strange, it’s not nearly as impressive on your average home tv. Maybe they’ll make the seasons quicker too because they won’t have as many effects?

      • JFG II says:

        Yeah, make the Narnia seasons quicker and cheaper: 2020-2024!

        Info for a possible Teaser Trailer:

        ‘Magician’s Nephew’: December, 2020
        ‘Lion, Witch & Wardrobe’: June, 2021
        ‘Horse & His Boy’: December, 2021
        ‘Prince Caspian’: June, 2022
        ‘Voyage of Dawn Treader’: June, 2023
        ‘Silver Chair’: December, 2023
        ‘Last Battle’: December, 2024
        You’ll find adventure… or adventure will find you.
        😉

  2. narnia fan 7 says:

    Not too surprising I guess. Netflix has been spending an insane amount of money on their original content, this year alone their going to end up spending around $15 bullion. I also read that Netflix intends to reduce their spending over the next few years, so I can see why they’d want to be more careful about what they put a lot of money behind.

    I wasn’t really expecting Netflix NOT to try and make Narnia appeal to a wide audience, so I’m not exactly surprised or disappointed to hear that might be the case. I don’t think aiming for a wide audience is inherently a bad thing, it really depends on the people involved and how much it affects the creative decisions.

  3. decarus says:

    There was this show called The Society which was sort of Lord of the Flies, but much more unrealistic and it was weird to think that that show was made in modern times. It was just very poor quality in all the ways. I think the best thing that Narnia could have going for it is that they don’t have to hire any big named actors. I would much rather have a bunch of people i had never heard of before.

  4. Cleander says:

    Huh, my first thought when I saw the headline was that Narnia would get a smaller budget… looks like I have some things to learn about business.
    I wonder what a crowd-pleasing Narnia that isn’t Walden would look like. If they go that route, that means they’ll have to take even greater pains to distinguish the series from the previous version. Which could be really good or really, really bad…..

    • Reepicheep775 says:

      I thought the same thing. I wasn’t able to read the actual article because I don’t have a subscription to The Information, but if Netflix is trying to keep audience size in mind when they plan the budgets for a project, couldn’t that still mean a smaller budget for Narnia? I know that Disney’s version of LWW was very successful, but it never really became the franchise they wanted it to and both sequels under-performed – at least compared to the first.

      If Netflix is trying to turn Narnia into a franchise juggernaut, I think they may be overestimating its cultural relevance sadly. The books continue to be respected as classics of children’s literature, but it’s not like we see Narnia merch in Hot Topic or anything.

      • The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

        The reason why I’m unfortunately thinking that Netflix’s Narnia = banking on big audiences is because I can’t imagine that they didn’t spend a lot just to require the rights. (The rights to the whole series, too.) And when Mark Gordon was quoted in that article about the next GoT a few months ago, he said “When you have a worldwide gigantic brand, like these books or The Lord of the Rings, people are running to it” — so they’re definitely thinking of it as a major franchise.

        That said… I suppose it’s possible that the Lewis Estate chose to accept a lower price tag in exchange for greater creative control?

      • Reepicheep775 says:

        That’s true… and a little disheartening. But, hey, at least we won’t have people in beaver costumes.

  5. Friederike Lehrbass says:

    I’m not a Netflix subscriber,but want to see Narnia. So people like me would be a gain for them….

  6. Cleander says:

    Me too! Though I imagine that if I got a Netflix subscription just for the sake of watching Narnia, I would probably cancel it immediately after Narnia was over. XD

  7. telmarine says:

    I think this conversation is more relevant for other aspiring IP that wants a shot at Netflix. Netflix has the reputation of green lighting a lot of original content that gets poor reception. Spending $115 million on Triple Frontier is a lot of money for a failed film. They could’ve created The Silver Chair with such a lavish budget! Netflix may just need to be more selective on what original content to produce. Money doesn’t grow on trees and they have a lot of debt, but also a huge cash inflow.
    That said, Narnia is easily one of their highest profile acquisitions. I’m sure they will inject a healthy budget into their films and series (if Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is any indication of their intended production quality).

  8. Hermitess of Narnia says:

    This is probably a good move for the company to become more budget conscious. However, speculating that Narnia would make a certain extreme amount of money is the reason Disney gave for dropping the movie franchise. It can’t just be assumed that, “This is about Narnia, therefore it will make as much as Harry Potter or LotR.”
    Narnia has the problem of having to fit in two markets: the Christian market and the general family market. My concern is that they will try to fit it into the plot-line of other successful fantasy franchises. If they do that, it won’t be unique and won’t feel like Narnia. There are some things that should be updated, like having a more genetically diverse cast – like Walden’s PC did with the centaurs.
    Glumpuddle is right, though, that there would be a temptation to make the story be about the children simply believing in themselves, rather than in Aslan and in Narnia.

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