Netflix has signed a deal to make four feature films with Adam Sandler as the streaming service continues its empire-building and moves into producing original movies that bypass the usual theatrical release.
Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions will work alongside Netflix in developing the yet-to-be announced titles, which will premiere exclusively in the nearly 50 countries where Netflix operates. It’s a significant move for Sandler, a longtime denizen of the Hollywood studio system — a system wedded to playing films first in theaters, not in the home. He’ll both star in and produce the Netflix projects.
“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!!!!”
News of the pact with Sandler came just two days after Netflix announced its partnership with The Weinstein Co. on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, its first feature production, which will debut exclusively on Netflix and in select Imax theaters in August 2015. But outraged theater owners who operate Imax locations in concert with Imax Entertainment immediately blasted the plan, saying they wouldn’t carry the film.
Netflix is prepared to pony up as much as the major studios do for a Sandler film, which, on average, costs in the $80 million range. Blended, his most recent comedy, was an exception, with a production budget of $40 million.
“People love Adam’s films on Netflix and often watch them again and again. His appeal spans across viewers of all ages — everybody has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite line — not just in the U.S. but all over the world,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
Sandler’s current studio commitments are not included in the Netflix deal. It’s not clear if Sandler’s first-look deal with Sony, his longtime home, will be impacted.
Sandler has been one of Hollywood’s most reliable stars in terms of box-office standing, although he’s experienced several disappointments in recent years, including Blended, which topped out at $46.3 million this summer in North America. That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill also didn’t meet expectations.
Still, Sandler is a high-profile get for Netflix, which has already established a firm foothold in the television production business with original series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.
The actor’s films, most of them comedies, have grossed more than $3 billion globally. And his films consistently rank among the most viewed by Netflix members, both in the U.S. and overseas.
Sandler has worked outside of the studio system from time to time, and stars in the upcoming indie drama The Cobbler, which made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. He is currently filmingPixels for Sony and can next be seen in theaters this weekend in Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children.