Netflix unveiled its full slate of 2023 releases on Wednesday. It’s a line-up with new movies from the likes of David Fincher, Bradley Cooper, Gal Gadot, and Zack Snyder, along with sequels to “Murder Mystery” and “Extraction.”
Kira Goldberg and Ori Marmur, who together run Netflix’s original studio film group, played a major role in shaping that roster. The duo has been tasked with producing big-budget and four-quarter films for the streaming service — think “The Gray Man” or “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story” to highlight two of their more recent efforts. They spoke with diversity What makes a company success that doesn’t depend on box office results, the challenges they’re facing as each media company launches its own Netflix challenger, and why the company’s stock woes haven’t ushered in a new era of cost-cutting.
How do you approach a slate design?
Ari Marmur: We want a strong slate representing a mix of genres. Our two key strategies we’re going for are creating “must-see” global films that our members are talking about, as well as creating the best creative home for our filmmakers to work in so they keep coming back.
When it comes to movie schedules, are you hoping to program a broad, all-audience movie every month?
Kira Goldberg: There’s an organic sequence to what’s ready, when to how the films come together. But we try to do what traditional studios do and have that anchor, big event movie every quarter. And then we try to give our members new movies every week. We try to program different flavors.
At one point you were releasing a new movie every week. Will you keep that rhythm?
Goldberg: The volume ends up being close to that. We don’t make films to hit a certain number of cinemas, but we are definitely getting closer to it.
The knock on Netflix is that the company has focused more on delivering quantity than quality. What do you think about this criticism?
Murmur: Our aspiration is for every film we make to be great. No one wants to make a good or mediocre film. And the truth is we think the bar is actually higher at home because there are so many other things that could potentially distract someone, unlike a movie theater where you buy a ticket, you put in the time, and whether you love the film or hate it, you’re there for the next two hours. are there We are really trying to lean towards making the kind of films that will grab your attention and make you want to watch the entire film from start to finish.
How do you measure success? Are you looking for someone to watch a film from start to finish or are you hoping to create content that everyone can sample different films for a few minutes?
Goldberg: We’re always looking for people who love our films, and I don’t think people like something they don’t finish.
What genre is working for Netflix? Are there certain movies that don’t resonate with your audience?
Murmur: When we look at our competitors’ slates, they lean toward reboots and remakes. They are doing things that have worked in the past. Our studio group has only been around for five years. We don’t have a deep bench of IPs to lean on. Our films are original and we are making films of every genre, including thrillers and rom-coms that you don’t see in multiplexes. We’re not just making superhero movies or action or animation. We also make some such films. But one of the things we’re excited about is that we’re making the first installment in a film franchise, not the fourteenth.
But are you making a sequel?
Goldberg: We have two sequels coming out this year in two different genres – “Murder Mystery 2” and “Extraction 2.” Both are providing characters the audience likes and expanding those stories. “Murder Mystery” will take you to places you haven’t been before in the last installment and “Extraction” has bigger and more challenging action sequences and a great story.
Will there be a “Murder Mystery 3” or an “Extraction 3”? Are those franchises likely to continue?
Goldberg: absolutely Hopefully we’ll find bigger and better stories to tell.
You’ve mentioned that you’re making movies that other big studios won’t do. Why will certain genres work on streaming when they don’t work in theaters?
Goldberg: Just because studios can’t find a place for these movies in theaters doesn’t mean audiences have stopped loving them. They have been able to satisfy that interest through TV for a long time. But we see a lot of love for romantic comedies and we have one coming soon called “Your Place or Mine” with Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon.
I’d like to drill down into a few of the films on Netflix’s slate. How would you describe David Fincher’s “The Killer”?
Murmur: It’s vintage Fincher, just from the title it’s exactly the lane you want to see him in. I don’t want to give too much away. I don’t want David to come and kill me.
Are you interested in producing an upcoming spy thriller “Heart of Stone” with Gal Gadot?
Murmur: One thing that really excited us was the idea of doing a film in a genre that is often dominated by men. It’s “Mission: Impossible.” It’s Bourne. Men are always at the center of these movies. It features two strong women in Gal Gadot and Alia Bhatt who are at the center of things. Together with Jamie Dornan they form a central trio.
You are working on two films “Rebel Moon” with Zack Snyder. What gave you the confidence to do two films in a row?
Murmur: Jack came with so much passion. It’s a film that’s been on his mind for decades. As you know, he spent a lot of time working on other people’s IP at other studios. We worked with him on “Army of the Dead” and we did things that others couldn’t do. We made a movie and then a prequel and launched a live experience. With “Rebel Moon” he wanted to push the envelope again. When we saw how big a world he had created we thought it would serve as two pieces as opposed to one film. This is the kind of story that can grow. He thinks of it as his take on creating something like “Star Wars.”
Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” a play about composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, seems to be in a very different key. What can people expect from that picture?
Goldberg: Bradley immerses himself in the world of Leonard Bernstein. The film came out of his desire to make a film about his marriage. At the center of this movie is a complex relationship between these two men [Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre] People who are so deeply connected and help each other realize their full potential. It’s incredibly emotional. It’s incredibly artistic.
You signed a development deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin. You recently announced that “Carry On,” a thriller with Taron Egerton, will be the first film under that deal. Are there other projects on the horizon?
Goldberg: We love the team there. We have some films that are early in the development process. It’s too soon to talk about them, but we’re excited to have a few more in sizes to hopefully announce soon.
Murmur: Working with them is exciting, especially when so many filmmakers cite Amblin films as inspiration. We want to make movies that have that tone or feel. Our aspiration is to make great, big Amblin films with Amblin.
“Glass Onion” seems to resonate with audiences. When will the next film in the series be released?
Murmur: [Writer and director] Rian Johnson is already working on a third, but there’s no specific timetable. We want to get the final response sooner rather than later.
When “The Gray Man” debuted last summer, there was a lot of talk about how it was the first installment of a major franchise. Where are you in terms of making sequels or spinoffs?
Goldberg: We are talking to AGBO [the company behind the film] and the Russo brothers. We do not set a timeline.
Murmur: The Russos are currently working on a film for us called “The Electric State” so that’s where their focus was
Netflix’s stock has fallen dramatically and the company has signaled that it will focus more on profits. Has that affected your disposal assets? Is the company pushing you to economize?
Goldberg: I’d like to think we’re always financially responsible, but the truth is we’ve given filmmakers the resources they need to realize their vision.
Murmur: We work somewhere that always reminds us that we are part of an innovative company and to keep innovating you have to take shots and swings. That is what we are doing.
When you started making movies, there weren’t that many companies with streaming services. Now there’s Apple TV+ and Prime Video and Disney+ and Paramount+ and HBO Max. How has increased competition changed your job?
Goldberg: We like to think that increased competition pushes us to be the best and we welcome it.
Murmur: It sharpens iron to iron mentality.