The Screen is a weekly column committed to everything occurring in the WIRED world of culture, from motion pictures to memes, TV to Twitter.This week, like a couple eagerly awaiting their weddings, Netflix sent out a”conserve the date.”It can be found in the form of a sizzle reel, soundtracked by Lil Nas X’s” Market Infant, “and included glimpses of all the huge movies the streaming service will be putting out this year. It was … fine? Like, sure, I’m going to view that Extraction follow up where Chris Hemsworth tosses an axe, which one featuring Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill with a genuinely awful hairstyle. Maybe that Zack Snyder sci-fi thingamabob. However beyond that, these movies do not appear amazing, or, as Rebecca Alter put it for Vulture,”they all feel a lot more generic somehow, like the Kirkland-label variations of movies. “Is this totally bad? No. Action films and rom-coms are fun! Netflix does not have a great deal of franchises
like Disney does, so it’s got ta fill its airwaves with movies efficient in keeping individuals liking and subscribing. Ergo, B-level films starting A-list stars– Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher in a quirky movie from the author of 27 Gowns( Your Location or Mine )! Gal Gadot doing some type of Salt thing(Heart of Stone)! Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in a sequel to Murder Mystery(Murder Secret 2)! (You’re forgiven for not remembering there was a first installation on that last one.)But, when you’re Netflix, you’re setting the tone, making the cultural artifacts of the age. Sure, every studio needs to produce a few sure-fire people-pleasers
a year, but one of the early promises of Netflix– and of streaming broadly– was that it would provide a platform for independent films, for the wicked and strange. Yes, those films still exist on Netflix, someplace, however they’re not the ones that get hyped in sizzle reels. If these are the must-see movies of 2023, the ones viewers are expected to set their watches by, it’s currently forming up to be a relatively by-the-numbers year. Watching Netflix’s teaser feels much more stark throughout this week. Not due to the fact that this is the week when Reed Hastings stepped down as Netflix’s co-CEO, but since it marks the start of the Sundance Movie Festival. In previous years
, Netflix and Amazon showed up with checkbooks open, prepared to provide top dollar to the next indie darling. There’s still a few of that– Amazon got In My Mom’s Skin from Ma director Kenneth Dagatan ahead of this year’s fest– however Netflix has actually moved on to using the festival as a location to premiere its own films, like it did with the Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana. A few of this, obviously, is the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a time throughout which Sundance and other celebrations needed to significantly restrict or cancel their in-person events, the places where motion pictures– and their developers and stars — got the ever-elusive buzz required to capture a streaming service’s eye. And now that movie celebrations are resuming live screenings, and returning to their indie roots, the emphasis seems to have actually moved at Netflix. Paired with similar shifts at HBO Max, it seems as though streaming is continuing to lose its edge– at a time when it truly could be making a point.