Scott Stuber is leaving Netflix. The chairman of Netflix film since 2017, he will be leaving in March to start his own media company.
This has been in the works for some time, as rumors were rampant that he had a different philosophy than Netflix toppers, whose prime focus has always been to make premium movies to be consumed by streaming. Other streamers have evolved into a theatrical first window for many of their big-budget films, as Apple did in securing traditional distributors to globally release films including Killers of the Flower Moon and Napoleon. While Netflix has acquired some posh theaters in qualifying cities like New York and Los Angeles, its business plan is mainly global streaming without the giant P&A spend needed for films to do big movie-house grosses.
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Stuber will stay to help the transition, and then Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria will oversee things until a permanent replacement is secured.
Stuber grew up at Universal and as a producer and had been indoctrinated into filmmaking with a traditional waterfall platform that starts with the theatrical release. He’ll launch a company that likely will follow that format, and he has money behind him.
Since joining Netflix, he’s transformed the company’s film slate — overseeing the acquisition, development or production of the streamer’s biggest movies: Red Notice (which remains Netflix’s most popular movie of all time), Bird Box, Hustle; Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Academy Award and BAFTA winner All Quiet on the Western Front, Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, The Adam Project, The Gray Man, Academy Award- and BAFTA-winning The Power of the Dog, Don’t Look Up, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and Oscar winners Marriage Story and Roma.
Stuber’s strong ties to the creative community and decades of experience in producing commercially successful and acclaimed motion pictures enabled Netflix to get in business with top filmmakers from Alfonso Cuarón to Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Greta Gerwig, Zack Snyder, Susanne Bier, Rian Johnson, Jane Campion and Martin Scorsese.
The bets on star-driven films have grown larger as other streamers stepped up, and films like Red Notice and The Gray Man have topped out at $200 million or more. Netflix made a precedent-setting $400 million-plus deal with director Rian Johnson, partner Ram Bergman and Daniel Craig to capture their Knives Out whodunit franchise. They got two films. The first, Glass Onion, was a smashing success from the moment it premiered at Toronto. But it didn’t make that serious a dent in the Oscar race, and many felt that was because of Netflix’s monogamy to its streaming service. It’s hard to knock; most other studios have put themselves in heavy debt chasing Netflix’s strategy with streaming ventures of their own. Most still are losing money.
Under Scott’s leadership Netflix was the most nominated studio at the Academy Awards for three consecutive years (2020-22). It has knocked on the door for Best Picture but hasn’t yet won. Apple became the first streamer to do that with CODA, but Netflix is in the mix this race with the Bradley Cooper-directed Maestro.
Stuber joined Netflix from Bluegrass Films and produced Ted, Central Intelligence and Safe House, among many others. Before that he was vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Studios, where he was responsible for many of its acclaimed, award winning, and commercially-successful films, including A Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, 8 Mile, Meet the Parents and its follow-up films, plus both the Bourne and Fast and Furious franchises. More than 20 of the films he supervised have grossed over $100 million at the U.S. box office.
“Seven years ago, Reed and Ted offered me the amazing opportunity to join Netflix and create a new home for original movies,” Stuber said in a statement. “I am proud of what we accomplished and am so grateful to all the filmmakers and talent who trusted us to help tell their stories. Thank you to Ted, Reed, Greg, Bela and the entire team, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”
Said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO: “Scott has helped lead the new paradigm of how movies are made, distributed and watched. He attracted unbelievable creative talent to Netflix, making us a premiere film studio. Under his leadership, we’ve become the most nominated studio for three years in a row at the Academy Awards – including eight Best Picture nominations, two Best International Feature Oscars, two Best Documentary Feature Oscars and our first Best Animated Feature Oscar. Scott, thank you for your leadership and friendship and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Added Bela Bajaria, Netflix Chief Content Officer: “What Scott has accomplished in seven years is nothing short of amazing. He created a world-class film studio, not only by working with established filmmakers, but also finding and supporting first time creators. He’s been such a trusted partner and friend to me and many others, and I hope to find new ways to continue to work together.”
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