Sell A Movie To NetFlix

In the world of indie filmmaking, it sure seems like every filmmaker wants to find out how to sell a movie to Netflix. In fact, it sure seems like NetFlix has become the holy grail.

And rightly so.  For many filmmakers, being able to sell a movie to Netflix has become a rite of passage.  And with over 30 million subscribers, getting your movie into the platform would represent exposure.

In fact, many filmmakers have been leaving messages at my office like this:

I want to sell a movie to Netflix! I just want you to know that I don’t care about money. In fact, if I can’t sell a movie to Netflix, I’d be happy to put my movie on Netflix for free.

If you’re having similar thoughts, you may want to rethink a few things. While the opportunity for exposure feels enticing, accepting a silly deal doesn’t pay the bills or pay back your investors.

Sell a Movie to Netflix

After working with several filmmakers on their distribution strategy, I really DO NOT think NetFlix offers indie filmmakers the most viable option for distribution. For starters, in order to get your movie into Netflix, you must first get into their database.

Sell a Movie To NetFlix

How do you get into the NetFlix database?

This is the secret sauce. Netflix decides what movies get into their database. And short of knowing somebody on the inside, there isn’t much you can do to change this. NetFlix is very discriminatory about what movies get into their database. So you better have an awesome movie that appeals to a large segment of the Netflix subscriber base.

What does NetFlix pay for film acquisitions?

If you are fortunate enough to get your title into the NetFlix database, you still need a gazillion people to request your movie in their Netflix queue. This is called queue demand. And this metric will influence the actual amount of money NetFlix will offer you.

For some filmmakers, I have heard numbers around the $1,300 range. (I wish I was kidding.) From a business perspective, this model allows NetFlix to predict demand and also acquire movies for minimal dollars.

Should You Try To Sell A Movie To NetFlix?

While it may be cool to have your movie available in NetFlix, the unappetizing deals they offer are just hard to stomach. Some of my filmmaker friends argue that getting into NetFlix is good because having your movie there will promote word of mouth.

To that, I usually respond that piracy is also good for word of mouth. And getting someone to bootleg your movie involves a lot less headaches.

If you are still set on getting into Netflix, then you may want to talk with traditional distributors or VOD aggregators who have a current pickup deal with Netflix. Utilizing these traditional channels may then allow you to circumvent some of the requirements I mentioned earlier.

If you go this route, you will obviously want to research all options and read the fine print.

sell your movieAnd if you would like to explore accessible outlets for your movie, you might wanna focus on transactional platforms (like iTunes and Amazon) and then drive targeted traffic to your point of sale.

Check out the Independent Producer’s Guide To Digital Distribution to find out more.

 

 

Comments

  1. farouk umar says

    lookig for a partner to team up and write amazing films contact me if interested

  2. Scott Kessler says

    I’m Scott Kessler, writer/director of four microIndie films (Deep River, Paragon, Paragon II, and Wrestless). All four have imdb pages, have screened at festivals, local theater screenings, etc.

    I want to move onto the next level.

  3. GRX says

    After doing the heavy lifting of promotional work, we have had people inquiring if our film was available on Netflix. While we will continue to tell them to contact Netflix, the truth is, we probably would never sign a deal with them regardless.

    This model where Netflix takes the majority of funds over the production company doesn’t fly with us. It is obvious that through Netflix’s pricing strategy, (they are pulling an Amazon) it is more important for them to dominate the market than to turn profit. That’s great, they’re just not going to do it on the back of our film!

    Major studios get a much different deal with Netflix than independent films do (even proportionally). $1300 is not anywhere near close to what we would expect to give up a hunk of future direct sales. The problem with film makers is the majority have no attention span. They do not realize that this is a Marathon, it isn’t a sprint. You’re selling a product, that means selling the product is an ongoing process….

  4. Frank Casanova says

    Jason speaks the TRUTH… and for that, all truth-speakers pay a hefty price. Most in their audience “can’t handle the truth”, and criticize the truth-speaker as a “buzz killer”….even though what they say IS the TRUTH. I’ve been down that road many times.

  5. Mormo says

    I am so stoked with Amazon right now. I would definitely go after them if I had a film I could sell.

  6. Jay Warsinske says

    Jason – I’m a 40+ year industry veteran who is a part of an amazing Entertainment Conference, I E S – the INDIE ENTERTAINMENT SUMMIT in NoHo Arts District (across from the TELEVISION ACADEMY). We have over 100 industry leaders speak, be on panels, run workshops & promote what they do to aspiring film makers, music artists, producers & talent from around the World. Love to invite you to spend at least an hour with us!

  7. Darius says

    My name is Darius. I started writing movies 2 yrs ago and I love it.

    I write movies about drama. My real life movies are heartfelt and intense. I try to write about things that can really happen in life. I am looking to team up with a partner. I write. They film 50/50 – Contact if interested.

  8. Aref Mohammadi says

    I am writer , Director and producer of A Survivor from Magadan. I am looking to screen this film internationally. Any festival programmer interested?

    Please let me know.

  9. Alexander Feng says

    Funding is up for filming, if there is free distribution VOD? Income distribution from sharing profit.. Email me if you have recommendations. Thank you.

  10. jack konieczny says

    I agree with you on how Netflix should pay filmmakers more, this is a classic example of self serving capitalism where the rich are only getting richer. Speaking of examples: Perhaps Mumtaz would like to give us a quick low down of his experience with Netflix.

  11. Kefi says

    I was just describing how awesome it was to see independent films that started out in small film festivals hit the “big leagues” like Netflix (without having to wine and dine Hollywood for some attention.) I didn’t want to read this article for fear of ruining the fantasy of Netflix indeed becoming the latest holy grail for independent filmmakers. Thanks for the reality check though, wish Netflix was more profitable for the filmmaker :/

  12. Mumtaz Yildirimlar says

    Dear Jason,

    My name is Mumtaz Yildirimlar (aka Taz) and I head up an independent production company in London, MY Production Limited.

    We make shocking thriller and horror films, as we have passion for the darker side of entertainment. We also like working with very commercial genres like these as they generate high revenue.

    We are looking for film distribution deals on the two films below. CROSSLAND and COLD BLOOD.

    CROSSLAND have been released in the US on AMAZON, NETFLIX, HULU, VUDU, REDBOX , PS3, MVD and many more platforms. It would be nice to get some other territory releases for CROSSLAND and COLD BLOOD. Can you help?

    I can arrange a screener or online file for viewing. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards,

    Mumtaz Yildirimlar
    Creative Director
    MY Production Limited

  13. JOSEPH says

    I am a Nigeria Film maker/writer and producer, based in South Africa. I am seeking international, African distribution or TV station.

    The news movie name is called HONOR (Honor): It is a story about Rape, Murder, Anger, Lust, and Rape Awareness/Campaign and Survival Stories.

    Joseph Nonyelim
    Writer/Producer

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