Actor/Producer Adam Sandler has inked a deal with Netflix for four feature length original films. The move, coming just days after Netflix announced a deal to premiere a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on the streaming service and in select Imax theaters, could point toward a major shift in how feature films are consumed.
The deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions will allow Sandler to both produce and star in each feature. Netflix is expected to provide studio-size budgets for each of the four films, possibly in the range from $40 – $80 million.
This announcement comes just days after Netflix and The Weinstein Co. broke the news of their somewhat controversial plan to release Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend day and date on the streaming service and on select Imax screens, inciting several theater chains to declare that they won’t exhibit the film.
Now, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, comes news that Warner Bros. has ended talks to produce Sandler’s The Ridiculous Six, a comedy-western on which the development process had been troubled even before the Netflix news broke. The film had originally been set at Sony, then at Paramount after Sony put it into turnaround, before ultimately being pursued by Warner Bros. Based on the sub-par box-office performance of Sandler’s most recent movie, Blended, coupled with the lackluster returns for Seth McFarlane’s recent western farce A Million Ways to Die in the West, the film’s path to the screen was never a sure thing. Some in the industry are speculating that the Warner Bros. decision is a reaction to Sandler’s deal with Netflix, which is being interpreted in some circles as the star thumbing his nose at the big studios.
Sandler is a big draw for Netflix, as he is a reliable star with a strong following. Despite recent box-office hiccups, his films are still popular around the globe. While most of his films have been studio-backed, he has worked outside the system on occasion, most recently in the indie drama The Cobbler, which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Netflix deal will give Sandler the creative freedom to pursue projects that studios might see as not having enough commercial potential. His Happy Madison Productions is currently in the process of renewing its long standing agreement with Sony, and the Netflix deal should not affect that, according to insiders. While neither studio has made an official statement, both Warner Bros. and Sony have expressed interest in continuing to work with Sandler in the future.
So, as Sandler said in a recent statement, “Let the streaming begin!”