“Annihilation”: Netflix Has Finally Released A Good Movie, But There’s A Big Catch

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Paramount)

Today’s the day: After a 17-day wait, “Annihilation” has been released onto Netflix, and the world finally has a solid movie that’s exclusive to the streaming platform.

That said, this isn’t all sugar and rainbows: While Netflix has managed something of a coup by landing the movie, it’s not available to audiences everywhere. While the movie is now free for streaming on Netflix in most of the world, viewers in the US and China instead have to buy a movie ticket to go and see it in theaters.

This is the result of a weird deal between Paramount and Netflix, as the studio executives responsible for the movie have decided that it’s “too intellectual” for movie audiences. The film has had a very lackluster, advertising-free release in the US, where it’s only managed to clock up $24 million in box office revenue over the past couple of weeks.

Source: Paramount

Netflix is becoming something of a dumping ground for bad — or at least unprofitable — movies. Studios that think they’ve made a dud can quickly sell a film to Netflix for a cool $50 million and cut their losses.

“Annihilation” is an interesting case in that the movie is actually solid, but Paramount didn’t have any faith in it, creating something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Studio executives didn’t think it’d do well because they believe their audiences are stupid, so they didn’t promote the movie and sold off its international distribution rights. Now the movie has underperformed, and Paramount’s heads are probably going to learn all the wrong lessons from this film.

Paramount will probably now labor under the illusion that Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac can’t carry a science fiction movie.

Natalie Portman Star Wars
Source: Lucasfilm

Because when has that ever worked out?

Oscar Isaac Star Wars
Source: Lucasfilm

In the meantime, Netflix audiences across the rest of the world have an engaging if dark new movie to watch, and it’ll be interesting to see how well the film does when people don’t need to pay to watch it. “Bright” managed some strangely high viewing figures, as did “The Cloverfield Paradox,” and they’re both pretty terrible.

Now, Netflix’s international audience has access to an exclusive new movie that comes from a renowned director, starring two of the most beloved actors of the modern era.

This is good news for the streaming service, as Netflix doesn’t need big blockbusters so much as it needs quality films. The numbers don’t matter; Netflix will make the same amount of money regardless, but the service has an image problem when it comes to exclusive movies that can only be fixed by releasing films that aren’t utter garbage.

The fates seem to be aligning on this project, and Paramount’s loss is Netflix’s gain.