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Week in Review: What do Adam Sandler’s Netflix movies mean for Hollywood?

Adam Sandler

Does Netflix have Eric Cartman’s AWESOME-O working in their studios? You remember; he was the lovable robot who could invent Adam Sandler movies out of thin air, like “Adam Sandler falls in love with a Golden Retriever” or “Adam Sandler is stranded on an island and falls in love with a coconut.” If so, that robot has led them to sign a deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison productions to produce and distribute four films, all of which Sandler will star in and produce. Additionally, Netflix will bankroll each of the films, the budget of which on previous Sandler films have averaged roughly $80 million (though where that money goes in the budget is anyone’s guess). This comes days after news that Netflix’s first feature would be the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel.

Sandler commented typically tastefully in a statement via THR, saying, “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,” Sandler said in a statement. “Let the streaming begin!!!!”

Keep in mind that any decision Netflix makes is data-driven, and it stands to reason Sandler’s films have been very successful on Netflix Instant streaming. Currently, Anger Management, Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Airheads, Click and Happy Gilmore are all available for streaming. And better yet, this saves you, a supposedly intelligent adult as opposed to an adult-sized manchild, the trouble of actually going to a theater and speaking the words, “One ticket for Jack and Jill please.”

But it does lead one to believe that Netflix is entering into an era of true disruption for traditional Hollywood studios. Sandler has been one of the poster children of the studio system, and four films that could make easy money in a theater is a big loss. It has led multiple outlets from commenting on the potential crater this leaves in Hollywood.

Vulture points out that this is a smart move for Netflix simply if they want to compete with the likes of HBO and Showtime, diversifying their portfolio of content items for all their subscribers, not just those interested in TV. It also gives them a strong play for families and young viewers who will watch an Adam Sandler movie again and again. But Indiewire went further and pointed out that this isn’t just a distribution deal; it’s a production deal. It opens the door to other big stars and directors landing similar deals, and provides them with the same freedom Kevin Spacey and David Fincher had with House of Cards. And yet Variety is skeptical that Netflix will truly be willing to drop the big bucks on Sandler. Even if they could support Sandler and Happy Madison’s wishes, do they today have the power to encroach on Hollywood’s tentpole superhero movies? Not likely, making this a more immediate threat to theater chains taken out of the equation than to studios or distributors willing to strike partnerships.

MeganEllison

Megan Ellison has in a very short time risen up the ranks of Hollywood power with her Annapurna Pictures, and she’s just signed deals with two equally rising stars, Richard Linklater and David O. Russell. First is Linklater, who following the success of Boyhood, seems poised to make whatever movie he damn well pleases. His follow-up will be That’s What I’m Talking About, a movie he originally intended as a sequel to Dazed and Confused, but now many years removed will act as a spiritual and thematic successor. The film has been described as set in 1980 about a college freshman experiencing a frat-party lifestyle with his baseball teammates. Annapurna has now picked up the rights to the film, which is expected to go into production imminently and will star Blake Jenner from Glee, Tyler Hoechlin from MTV’s Teen Wolf, and Wyatt Russell from 22 Jump Street

As for O. Russell, Ellison has signed a two picture deal with the director to finance future projects. Annapurna previously backed American Hustle, but it’s unclear which new projects will fall under this umbrella. O. Russell’s next project is Joy, based on the life of Joy Mangano, a housewife and mom who invented products like the Miracle Mop and became a hugely successful entrepreneur. Annie Mumulo (Bridesmaids) is writing the script and O. Russell wants to work with Jennifer Lawrence yet again.

Tracy Morgan may never perform again, as according to a quote from Morgan’s attorney in Page Six, “The doctors don’t know the answer. I don’t know the answer.” USA Today explains that Morgan is currently undergoing physical, cognitive and occupational therapy and has suffered brain damage following the car crash that also killed fellow comedian James McNair.

Yvette Nicole Brown‘s Shirley Bennett is the latest graduate of Greendale Community College, as prior to the return of the sixth season of the cult-comedy Community on Yahoo!, Brown is departing the show for personal reasons. TV Guide first quoted Brown as saying, “My dad needs daily care and he needs me. The idea of being away 16 hours a day for five months, I couldn’t do it. It was a difficult decision for me to make, but I had to choose my dad.” This will force the hand of Creator Dan Harmon to explain her sudden absence, and she follows in the foot steps of Chevy Chase and Donald Glover as original cast members who have since departed the show.

Deadline reports that Zombieland 2 is a go after several years of the franchise slowly, zombie-like, trying to find franchise footing either in a sequel or this failed Amazon pilot. Ruben Fleischer will return to direct, and Dave Callaham (The Expendables franchise, Godzilla) will write the script, but so far the rest of the cast, including the all much more valuable stars of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone, have not yet been in talks to return.

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