Leonardo DiCaprio & Netflix Strike a New Deal for Documentaries

March 4, 2015

Leonardo DiCaprio / Netflix

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.

Find more posts: Development, Documentaries, Movie News



Daredevil or "Dimwit"? I know which one I'd watch and it ain't some girly boy tree hugging documentary.

TXSteadyEddie on Mar 4, 2015


You're so wise.

Ethan Anderton on Mar 4, 2015


I, for one, love the girly boy tree hugging documentaries. Down with Seaworld!!

TheOct8pus on Mar 4, 2015


Just how many documentaries actually get major theatrical releases? I know where I live is a smaller town and not a big city, but I can't remember one documentary that was screened here. And the fact that any film needs "a limited theatrical release" just to qualify for an Oscar nod always seemed rather stupid for me. Could be the finest movie ever made, but needs to play in NY and LA for a weekend, otherwise the Academy might snub it? Yet another reason I don't care for the awards. But back on point, using Netflix to get documentaries into households who otherwise wouldn't spend theater prices on a doc is a pretty good idea.

theslayer5150 on Mar 4, 2015


That is great news. More docs the better, IMO.

DAVIDPD on Mar 5, 2015


I have to say the Virunga was pretty disappointing and quite uneven in it's finger pointing. Happy to blame the evil British oil corporation for invading the national park and threatening the Gorillas but turning a blind eye to the Congolese government that gave them the license to do so. It really wasn't worth the Oscar nomination.

Payne by name on Mar 5, 2015

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