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A trend among entertainment companies as Hollywood continues its will-they/won’t-they relationship with a possible recession is the unloading of completed projects. The move has been seen across the industry, from AMC+ to Parmaount+ and Disney to HBO Max. Now The Hollywood Reporter has learned of two completed Netflix feature films, The Inheritance and House/Wife, that will no longer be distributed by the streamer, with filmmakers shopping them elsewhere for distribution.
The Inheritance, directed by Alejandro Brugués and produced by Paul Schiff, and House/Wife, from director Danis Goulet and producers Tripp Vinson and Daniel Bekerman, are genre films that were set to be released by Netflix, which will now no longer move forward with the movies.
In the summer, HBO Max made the announcement that the DC feature film Batgirl and the animated movie Scoob!: Holiday Haunt would be shelved after both had completed production. At the time, it was reported that they were casualties of the new corporate strategy from parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, which would be taking a tax write-down on the films’ budgets.
It is unclear exactly why Netflix decided to unload the two features, but a notable difference from the HBO Max titles is that The Inheritance and House/Wife are being shopped elsewhere. More recently, a feature film based on the Comedy Central series Workaholics was scrapped by Paramount+ five weeks before filming was slated to begin. Like the Netflix features, this project is now being shopped elsewhere.
On the television front, multiple shows have been canceled while in various stages of production, or shows’ renewals have been rescinded before the new season gets underway. AMC Networks, which has been on unsure financial ground, has been seeking up to $400 million in write-downs, rescinding orders for series like Demascus, 61st Street and Invitation to a Bonfire, all of which had either completed or were partially through production.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, studios like Paramount and Sony began offloading completed films to recoup or minimize financial losses, landing at streamers Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+. Nearly three years later, after pivot-to-streaming efforts, entertainment companies are contending with inflation, a possible recession and a constant chase for subscribers.
Netflix’s decision to offload the two titles arrives as the streamer is trying to maintain about the same level of content spend — $17 billion — of years past, while focusing on profits from its 230 million-plus subscribers globally. Last week, the streamer reported a massive Q4, adding 7.66 million paid subscribers, including its new ad tier option. As previously reported by THR, the streamer has pared back the number of its film bets, but has a splashy slate of titles for the next few months that includes Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s Murder Mystery 2 (March 31), Jennifer Lopez’s The Mother (May 12) and Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction 2 (June 16). Recently, Netflix was a major buying power at the Sundance Film Festival, scooping up the buzziest premiere, Fair Play, for $20 million.
The Inheritance takes place on the eve of billionaire Charles Abernathy 75th birthday when, according to the project’s description, “he invites his four estranged children back home out of fear that tonight someone — or something — is coming to kill him. To ensure his family will help protect him from whatever’s coming, Abernathy puts each of their inheritances on the line — they’ll get nothing if he’s found dead by dawn.” Joe Russo and Chris LaMont penned the movie, which stars Bob Gunton, Peyton List, Austin Stowell, Briana Middleton, David Walton and Rachel Nichols. (Nichols was previously married to Netflix film head Scott Stuber.)
House/Wife follows, as the logline reads, “a mother recovering from a brutal accident moves into a prototype smart home with her family, only to find the house’s AI system may have sinister intentions.” Anna Halberg and Spenser Cohen penned the screenplay for the film, which stars Alice Braga, Kris Holden-Ried and Sarah Gadon.
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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