WE ♥ DOCS
Leonardo DiCaprio & Netflix Strike a New Deal for Documentaries
by Ethan Anderton
March 4, 2015
While movie theaters continue to refuse to book films that strike deals for releases on Netflix the same day a film hits theaters, that's not stopping production companies from teaming up with the streaming service for future endeavors. Today, Netflix announced a multi-year first look deal with Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way production banner for documentary projects that will stream exclusively on the streaming service. The aim of DiCaprio as a producer or executive producer of these projects is to mix philanthropy with filmmaking and create projects with topical, provocative environmental and conservation themes.
This comes after DiCaprio and Netflix teamed on Virunga, a documentary that was just nominated for an Academy Award. Even though these forthcoming documentaries will be available exclusively on Netflix as far as streaming is concerned, that doesn't mean they won't get limited theatrical releases to qualify for awards season like Virunga. And since Netflix has millions of subscribers around the world, this means important environmental and conservations issues have the potential to get more exposure, which is something that is very close to DiCaprio's heart. The actor said this about the new deal:
"Working with Netflix on Virunga has sparked a shared vision about projects that we want to develop and bring to viewers. 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 continues Netflix march as a dominant force of entertainment, not just as a streaming outlet, but a creator of original content. They're certainly shaking of the distribution game, and we just pointed out how theaters will just have to adapt and deal with this new element of the business. Audiences will go to the theater when they feel compelled to get out of the house, but some movies will have a better chance at getting viewers if they head to a service like Netflix. Since DiCpario has already delivered one Oscar-nominated documentary with Netflix involved, I'm certainly interested to see what else they can do.