Next to film festivals, Netflix has quickly become one of the most valuable outlets for documentary filmmakers, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production banner Appian Way is looking to become one of its top producers. With the success of their collaboration last year – the Oscar-nominated Virunga – the news of a multi-year first-look deal between the two parties comes as no surprise (Deadline first reported the news). The new documentaries will follow in the same vein as their predecessor in pushing humanitarian and conservation awareness – a goal also carried out through the actor-producer’s philanthropy, in the form of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Working with Netflix on Virunga has sparked a shared vision about projects that we want to develop and bring to viewers,” DiCaprio commented. “There’s never been a more critical time for our planet or more of a need for gifted storytellers to help us all make sense of the issues we face. Through this partnership with Netflix, I hope to give documentary filmmakers doing urgent and important work the chance to have their films seen immediately by audiences all around the world.
This deal adds to Netflix’s exponentially growing list of exclusive partnerships. The rundown now includes a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel, a four-film deal with Adam Sandler – the first of which will be Ridiculous 6 – and another four-pic deal with the Duplass Brothers. Netflix has also recently acquired distribution for several stand alone films, such as Jadotville starring Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey), Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday produced by Judd Apatow and Paul Reubens, and Carey Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation. With Netflix continuing to stretch into several areas of the film industry, the debate over the necessity for theatrical releases continues.