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10 Movie Stars Moving to Netflix

Netflix is building up star-power to match theatrical releases.

By Sean PatrickPublished 7 years ago 9 min read

As the landscape of pop culture consumption continues to evolve, Netflix is fighting to stay on the front lines of the battle for eyeballs. While theater owners push back against the encroachment of online streaming outlets looking to run first-run features, Netflix is going the way of HBO, developing original content with big stars. With that in mind, here are 10 major stars making the move to Netflix in 2017.

10. First They Killed My Father – Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is taking her directorial talents to Netflix this year for “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers.” Here Jolie, in her second documentary feature and 5th time out as a director, will attempt to adapt the story of Cambodian activist Loung Ung; Ung was born and raised in Cambodia and suffered the horrors of the Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam war, including the brutal murder of her father. Jolie, a former United Nations celebrity ambassador, is quite familiar with stories with this kind of international flavor. Jolie’s first documentary feature, “A Place in Time,” trotted across the globe to tell the story of a week in the life of people around the world. Netflix has yet to announce a release date for “First They Killed My Father.” In the meantime Jolie will be returning to the big screen in 2018, having begun shooting the sequel to her hit movie “Maleficent.”

9. Five Came Back - Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro and Meryl Streep

“Five Came Back” is another directorial coup for Netflix, as they have pulled together Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Guillermo Del Toro, among others, to tell the story of how Hollywood went to war in World War 2. Add in narration by the legendary Meryl Streep and you’ve got Netflix truly flexing their star-drawing muscles. “Five Came Back” is an ambitious 3 part documentary series that aims to tell the story of how Hollywood depicted World War 2 through the eyes of film directors who know a little something about bringing battles and politics to the big screen. “Five Came Back” is streaming now on Netflix starting March 31st, 2017.

8. Sandy Wexler - Adam Sandler

It’s fair to say that since this is the 3rd picture in the 4-picture deal Sandler made with Netflix in 2014, this entry isn’t so much about Sandler's making the move from big screen to small but rather his continuing the move. With his dwindling prospects at the box office, Sandler made the strategic move to Netflix, where his brand of juvenile, low-brow comedy has apparently been met with success, if Netflix is to be believed. The company, which has refused to release any official streaming numbers, has stated that Sandler’s “Ridiculous Six” was a huge hit, becoming the most-watched original movie in Netflix history in its first 30 days. Netflix hasn’t said much about the numbers for his follow-up, the spy comedy “The Do-Over,” but numbers don’t really matter when the company has already agreed to make 4 movies. The latest, “Sandy Wexler,” is a comedy set in the mid-nineties in which Sandler portrays the titular Sandy, a talent agent for several low-grade celebs whose life is changed when he falls in love with a client with a real talent, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. “Sandy Wexler” debuted on Netflix April 14th, 2017.

7. Naked - Marlon Wayans

Following the Adam Sandler career plan is Marlon Wayans who, after the failure of his “Fifty Shades of Grey” parody, “Fifty Shades of Black,” is leaving the big screen behind for Netflix for his next feature, “Naked.” An adaptation of a not particularly well-loved Swedish comedy from 2000, “Naken,” “Naked” will star Wayans as a man who wakes up naked in an elevator on the day of his wedding and must relive the same day over and over again until he figures out how he ended up nude in an elevator one hour before his wedding. Regina Hall has signed on to play Wayans’ bride in “Naked,” while his “Fifty Shades of Black" team, consisting of director Michael Tiddes and screenwriters Cory Koller and Rick Alvarez, round out the film’s creative team. Netflix has not announced an official release date for “Naked,” only a plan to release the film in 2017.

6. Sand Castle - Henry Cavill, Nicholas Hoult

Two stars stinging from recent critical poundings, Henry Cavill and Nicholas Hoult are heading to Netflix to try and turn things around. Cavill, who really doesn’t need the work with the promise of endless checks for his work as Superman in “Justice League” is set to co-star in “Sand Castle” in hope of finding better critical notice on the small screen than he found in last year’s poorly reviewed blockbuster “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Hoult meanwhile, continues the search for the leading man status that has eluded him at the box office following the disastrous box returns for his leading man role in “Collide.” “Sand Castle” looks to, at the very least, offer a juicy dramatic premise for Hoult as he plays an American soldier in Iraq working desperately to repair a broken water system in a village deemed too dangerous by his commanding officers. The story is based on the real life experience of soldier turned screenwriter Chris Roessner who worked closely with Hoult and director Fernando Coimba on the story. “Sand Castle" debuted to little fanfare on Netflix on April 21st, 2017.

5. Mute - Paul Rudd, Alexander Skarsgard and director Duncan Jones

It’s hard to get a read on Paul Rudd’s interest in Netflix. Rudd has been crafting a reliable career at the box office, launching the Marvel franchise “Ant-Man” and scoring well in the past with comedies like “Role Models” and “This is 40.” Yet, "Mute" is Rudd’s second venture with Netflix in the last year, having co-starred in the well-received dramedy “The Fundamentals of Caring” in 2016. Maybe he just really wanted to work with director Duncan Jones who is moving to Netflix following the crash and burn box office performance of his adaptation of “Warcraft.” Following such a catastrophe by moving to a place where box office isn’t a factor certainly must be appealing to Jones after the torturous aftermath of “Warcraft.” “Mute” will star Paul Rudd and fellow movie star turned streaming star Alexander Skarsgard in the story of a mute bartender, played by Skarsgard, who goes searching for his missing girlfriend in a futuristic Berlin, Germany where his only clues come in strange encounters with a pair of American surgeons, Duck played by Justin Theroux and Cactus Bill, played by Rudd. Director Jones announced he would make “Mute” his immediate follow-up to “Warcraft” even before that film failed at the box office. It’s film that Jones has wanted to make for some time and one he’s described as a spiritual sequel to his sci-fi breakout “Moon.” There is no official release date yet for “Mute,” only the promise of a Netflix debut in 2017.

4. The Discovery and Our Souls at Night - Robert Redford, Rooney Mara, Jason Segal and Jane Fonda

As the founder of Sundance, Robert Redford has long looked to the future of film and now the acting legend seems to have found his future at Netflix. The former Academy Award nominee will co-star in not one, but two upcoming Netflix features in 2017. Up first is the sci-fi flick “The Discovery” which attracted not only Redford, but fellow big screen stars Rooney Mara and Jason Segal. “The Discovery” stars Redford as a scientist who proves the existence of the afterlife. Segal plays Redford’s son in the film, which begins a tentative romance in the wake of his father’s discovery, with a woman played by Mara who is dealing with past trauma while people all around them begin committing suicide. The film actually did debut on the big screen, garnering some positive reviews when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Nevertheless, the film from first time filmmaker Charlie McDowell will made its official debut on Netflix on March 31st. Ah, but Mr. Redford is not finished with Netflix as he is also set to star alongside fellow acting legend Jane Fonda, and his “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Electric Horseman” co-star Jane Fonda in the drama “Our Souls at Night.” This adaptation of the novel of the same name from author Kent Haruff has Redford playing a widower in a small Colorado town who finds himself in a romance with a fellow widower played by Fonda. Buzzed about director Ritesh Batra, known for his 2013 international debut “The Lunchbox” and gaining notoriety for his upcoming film “The Sense of an Ending” directed “Our Souls at Night” though there is yet no announced release date from Netflix.

3. Okja - Jake Gyllenhaal

Streaming is where director Bong Joon Ho’s “Snowpiercer” became a phenomenon so going straight to Netflix for his next super-ambitious feature seems a logical move. And it is likely that the buzzy director helped lead superstar Jake Gyllenhaal away from the big screen for “Okja,” Ho’s “Snowpiercer” follow up. “Okja” is set to tell the complicated tale about a genetically engineered and quite large animal species befriended by a young girl, played by newcomer Seo Hyun, who deems herself the animal’s protector. There is no word yet on what Gyllenhaal’s role in the film will be, only that he’s in the cast alongside Hyun, Paul Dano, Lily Collins and “Snowpiercer” villain-ess Tilda Swinton. “Okja” will debut on Netflix on June 28th.

2. War Machine - Brad Pitt

Coming off of personal and professional struggles, Brad Pitt will look to regain his superstar footing at Netflix as he headlines “War Machine.” Following the tabloid heavy ending of his marriage to Angelina Jolie and the box office failure of his prestige drama “Allied, “Pitt needs the reboot. “War Machine” is based on the bestselling non-fiction book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” by journalist Michael Hastings and will star Pitt as the fictional General McMahon, who is undoubtedly inspired by General Stanly McChrstal, the real life subject of the book. Hastings book portrays the war in Afghanistan in 2009 as something akin to the Wild West with McChrystal as the pseudo-Wyatt Earp. Tilda Swinton, Ben Kingsley and Topher Grace co-star in “War Machine” which debuted on Netflix on May 26th, 2017.

1. Bright - Will Smith

Arguably the biggest star to ever make the move to Netflix, Will Smith’s box office appeal has been in decline lately, save for the DC Super-Villain blockbuster “Suicide Squad.” Following the depressing returns for his head trauma Oscar drama “Concussion,” and the con-man adventure “Focus,” it seems a reset button isn’t a bad idea for the man who was once the box office king of the world. Enter the unusual Netflix supernatural action-adventure flick “Bright” which casts Smith as a cop in an alternate universe South Central Los Angeles that has just accepted its very first Orc Cop, played under heavy CGI makeup by Joel Edgerton. In this unique universe, Orcs, Fairies, Elves and humans have lived together for years, though discrimination against Orcs has apparently been a pretty big deal during that time. Because of the casting of Smith many see “Bright” as a step into blockbuster territory for Netflix. We will see if the streaming service picks up some blockbuster numbers of new subscribers when “Bright” arrives to stream in December of 2017.

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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