US streaming service Netflix has secured comic actor Adam Sandler, one of cinema’s biggest box-office draws, as part of its bid to transform the movie business in the same way it has changed television.
Sandler has signed a four-film deal with the firm, starring in and producing each feature, all of which will premiere exclusively on Netflix.
The Wedding Singer star said: “When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only: Netflix rhymes with wet chicks. “Let the streaming begin!”
Netflix declined to say how much it was paying Sandler, but the streaming giant has a history of reaching deep into its pocket.
To land House of Cards with director David Fincher and star Kevin Spacey, Netflix reportedly spent €100m for the first two seasons.
On Tuesday, Netflix signalled its long-planned entry into original movies, announcing it will stream a sequel to 2000’s Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — one of the most lucrative foreign language releases ever.
The sequel, produced by the Weinstein Company, will open in August 2015 simultaneously in Imax theatres and on Netflix.
Sandler is one of Hollywood’s most reliable draws, with films that have grossed more than $2.4bn. But his track record has recently been rocky. His last film, the romantic comedy Blended, with Drew Barrymore, took in a more modest $46.3m.
Netflix has been rapidly expanding overseas, most recently in Europe, and is now available in nearly 50 countries.
The four features, which are currently planned without any theatrical release, are expected to be comedies.
The first movie, to be jointly developed between Netflix and Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, could come as early as late 2015.
Netflix’s plans with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend have already upset the movie industry’s traditional patterns. The three largest exhibitors, AMC, Regal and Cinemark quickly refused to carry it on their screens.
“We will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three storeys tall to 3in wide on a smartphone,” Regal’s Russ Nunley said.
But many analysts see the disruption caused by Netflix’s entry into original movies, in an era of ever-proliferating screens, as an overdue challenge to Hollywood’s carefully controlled theatrical model.
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