During the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos announced aggressive plans for the site. According to Ad Age, Sarandos said Netflix hopes to "premiere a new series or new season every two-and-a-half weeks" and would like to reach that goal within five years, adding that Netflix "will eventually be the largest producer of original content in the world." Though Netflix has seen huge returns in the form of audience and critical acclaim for House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, not every project will have an "all-things-to-all-people" approach: Ad Age reports Sarandos saying Netflix hopes to "appeal to specialized markets."
Netflix's first release since the announcement seems to be bearing that out. Marco Polo (a Netflix/Weinstein Co. collaboration) is an opulent epic that has been compared to Game of Thrones--but in visual richness only. Marco Polo, a $90-million production set in 13th century China and Mongolia, is the collaborative effort of Netflix and The Weinstein Co., the film studio that gave us The Artist and The King's Speech, as well as a surfeit of utter crap like Piranha 3DD. In Marco Polo, scenes are too long, characters are underdeveloped and viewers aren't engaged. The series will be watched by a lot of people--Netflix has more than 50 million subscribers--but the adage "if there are more people on stage than in the audience, you're doing something wrong" seems apropos.
A multi-million-dollar boondoggle isn't writing on the wall for Netflix, though, and it gets kudos for its willingness to take a risk--or two or three. In September, The Hollywood Reporter wrote about plans by Netflix and The Weinstein Company to release Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel The Green Legend (Ang Lee) day-and-date, which means online and in theaters simultaneously. Netflix also inked a deal with Adam Sandler, who will produce and star in four films that will debut exclusively on Netflix. That last one is a little fraught: Since 2010, Sandler has produced, starred in or written Jack and Jill, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2 and Blended, all of which have Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 20 percent or lower (Jack and Jill topped out at an embarrassing 3 percent). Maybe Netflix knows something the rest of us don't.