Netflix finally admits it's made too many bad movies: 'we made a lot of things that weren’t ready'

Liza and Brenner look at someone off camera in Netflix's Pain Hustlers movie
Netflix's Pain Hustlers movie was trashed by critics in October. (Image credit: Brian Douglas/Netflix)

Netflix has finally admitted that it's made too many poorly received movies – and it plans to make fewer original films moving forward.

Per Variety, Netflix's film division chief Scott Stuber confirmed that the world's best streaming service had churned out too many first-party flicks that were critically and/or commercially panned.

Defending the company's previous policy of mass-producing movies, Stuber suggested that Netflix "needed volume" in order to compete with the biggest studios on the planet. To that end, the initial business model saw the streaming giant set an ambitious target of pumping out one new original movie every week. However, that mass turnover of new Netflix movies, albeit aspirational, meant that for every Oscar winner like Roma, there were absolute duds such as The Kissing Booth.

The titular mother looks directly into the camera in Jennifer Lopez's The Mother on Netflix

The Mother was a huge hit with Netflix users but not critics. (Image credit: Eric Milner/Netflix)

Thankfully, Netflix has belatedly seen the error of its ways, and plans to reduce its film-based output over the next few years. Indeed, Stuber told Variety that the streaming company would almost cut production in half, with only 25 to 30 new movies debuting on Netflix annually from now on.

Elaborating further on the studio's commitment to cut back, Stuber said: "We’re a machine that was built to go, go, go, and that doesn’t always result in quality. A lot of streaming companies made the mistake of moving so fast that we made a lot of things that weren’t ready to be produced. I want to avoid that.

"Right now, we’re not trying to hit a set number of film releases. It’s about 'Let’s make what we believe in'. Let’s actually put forth a slate that we can stand behind and say, 'This is the best version of a romantic comedy. This is the best version of a thriller. This is the best version of a drama.'"

Fixing Netflix's filmmaking faux-pas

A screenshot of the three main characters in fancy clothes in Netflix's Red Notice movie

Red Notice is the most-watched Netflix original movie of all-time, despite its poor critical reception. (Image credit: Netflix)

It's high time Netflix realized that its quantity-over-quality approach was detrimental. Obvious as it is to say, movies cost a lot of money, so not only was Netflix releasing films that its near-250 million-strong user base wasn't always interested in, it was also hemorrhaging cash. In an era where Netflix and its rivals, including Disney Plus, Max, and Prime Video, are trying to save money, churning out movie after movie is a waste of time and resources.

None of this is to say that Netflix is a mass producer of consistently bad films. In fact, some of the most acclaimed films of the last few years have debuted exclusively on the platform. His House, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Roma, The Irishman, They Cloned Tyrone, The Power of the Dog, Nimona, Hustle, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery... the list goes on and on.

And that's before you consider Netflix films that didn't receive universal adoration from critics, but were huge hits among the streamer's fanbase. Just look at The Gray Man, Extraction 2, Bird Box, and The Adam Project – some of which you'll find on our best Netflix movies list – as proof of that.

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There have, though, been plenty of costly misfires. Gal Gadot's Heart of Stone was ripped apart by everyone upon release in August. Pain Hustlers, the Emily Blunt and Chris Evans-fronted crime thriller that looked like a medical Wolf of Wall Street, was slammed by critics in late October. Add in other flicks starring big names including Reptile, Old Dads, and We Have a Ghost, and Netflix's 2023 hit rate hasn't been as good as the studio would've liked.

Of course, there are Netflix Originals that have bucked that trend in recent years. Red Notice, which stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, was poorly received by critics in 2021. However, it's the most-streamed first-party Netflix movie of all time (per Netflix's Top 10 website) with almost 231 million views. The Mother, a Jennifer Lopez-led film, was also panned earlier this year, but it's been watched by 136 million users since its mid-May launch.

With overnight successes such as these, it's little wonder that Netflix continued to pump out movies of questionable quality. Now, it seems the streamer has finally realized it can't continue down that road, which hopefully means future in-house films will be of a higher standard than much of what's come before. And who knows, maybe its revised movie-making plan will help it achieve its burning ambition to finally win a Best Picture Oscar after five years of trying.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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