Not so long ago, the only way you could enjoy movies from your home was to buy a home video release or wait for the movie to come to TV. Now, by then, the movie had been out for a while and a lot of people had already seen it, because home or TV releases would happen months or years after the film’s debut. Now, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, you can watch new content very quickly, with some movies even premiering on the streaming service. But, how much does Netflix pay for its movies and TV shows? We’re going to answer that here.
Netflix doesn’t publicly disclose its deals, but from what we managed to gather around the Internet, Netflix is currently paying between $100 and $250 million for blockbuster movies, while popular TV shows with multiple seasons have budgets that range from $300 to $500 million.
The article is going to explore the financial aspects of Netflix’s deals with filmmakers and production companies. You’re going to find out just how much Netflix pays for movies (indie and blockbusters) and TV shows, as well as how much money filmmakers earn from Netflix.
How much does Netflix pay for a movie?
Now, we first have to specify that this article only concerns what is called licensed content, i.e., the content owned by third parties, whose distribution rights Netflix pays for. Original content is not a topic here, as original content always has its own production budget and that depends on a lot of different factors, which is why we shan’t be discussing it here.
Now, as far as licensing agreements are concerned, you have to know that Netflix doesn’t publicly disclose its deals. Sure, some information does come out from time to time, but we know nothing as a general rule. Plus, a lot has changed since Netflix’s early days.
Namely, when Netflix was still young and not actually in the production business themselves, they had to pay more to have content on their platform. On top of that, they also had to get a lot of low-budget or indie movies, most of which never became part of film history.
After doing some extensive research, we know that Netflix used to give around $40,000 and $60,000 to low-budget works at the time. But that has since changed. Netflix has become a bigger player and, first of all, they don’t even have so many low-budget movies on the platform anymore. Secondly, they don’t pay that much money because they can get better content. And, finally, they started producing content themselves.
The exact amounts are not known, but you can be assured that its more than the initial $60,000 for big movies, while low-budget films get a lot less, if anything.
What is the most Netflix has paid for a movie?
As far as it is known, Netflix’s most expensive single movie (i.e., not a franchise or multi-project deal) to date is The Gray Man, which entered into production in July 2020. The movie is said to cost around $200 million, and is an espionage thriller directed by the Avengers’ Russo Brothers. The Gray Man beat the previous record-holder, Red Notice, which had a budget of $160 million.
How much does Netflix pay for independent films?
Giving any precise information about the fees involved is rather ungrateful, as Netflix doesn’t disclose its deals publicly, and it seems that the filmmakers don’t do it either. Independent filmmakers have it tough to find a distributor for their movies and although they have it somewhat easier if they manage to screen their movie during a festival.
Netflix, like other distributors, tends to “buy off” indie movies directly from (major) festivals, but if you’re not that lucky to be in Sundance, Tribeca, or Venice, you might be in trouble. Netflix doesn’t really consider unsolicited scripts or works, so you’ll either have to find an agent or a good attorney.
Now, as for the money, it all depends on the agreement and how much potential Netflix sees in the project. There are no exact numbers, so it all depends on the contract. We’re not even sure how the old numbers apply today, so we can’t actually give any more info besides what we already have.
How much does Netflix pay for blockbuster films?
Blockbuster deals are also something that Netflix is known for, but it’s really a new thing, that commenced when Netflix became a big player in the market. Netflix now earns enough money to make big deals or even multi-project deals that are worth several hundred million dollars.
Recently, Netflix has closed a multi-project Knives Out deal worth $469 million (or $234.5 million per film, with two films in the works), which was well above the $160 million Netflix spent on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, a lot more than the complete Shonda Rhimes ($150 million) or Kenya Barris ($100 million) deals, and nearly the same cost as Adam Sandler’s four-picture deal with Netflix from 2014 ($250 million), but that one included more movies.
So yeah, along with the info on some individual movies provided above, these numbers show that Netflix is ready to pay serious money for big blockbuster projects, making them one of the biggest and most important players in the market.
How much does Netflix pay for TV shows?
As far as TV shows are concerned, they have been Netflix’s biggest asset since its debut and are still the dominant aspect of the streaming service. It doesn’t really surprise us that Netflix is ready to invest big money into its TV shows, some of which – like Stranger Things for example – have become pillars of modern popular culture. So, do we have some numbers?
From what we know since August 2021, Netflix’s The Crown has an incredible estimated budget of around $520 million, which makes it the platform’s most expensive TV show in history. Kevin Spacey’s political thriller House of Cards had an estimated budget of around $365 million, with Orange Is the New Black trailing at $364 million. We close off this list with Stranger Things, whose estimated budget was around $300 million.
As you can see, Netflix is truly willing to invest in its shows, which actually makes sense, since the platform is known for producing high-quality television content.