Films

Is Netflix Starting To Make Proper Feature Films?

A 40-minute special feature on the Making of Orson Welles’ lost, the incomplete film may be found in the “Trailers and More” section of the Netflix page for Orson Welles’ long-awaited The Other Side of the Wind. It’s called A Final Cut for Orson: 40 Years in the Making, and it’s a fascinating mini-documentary that deserves its own Netflix page. But what’s most intriguing about this secret featurette is what it means for Netflix’s non-existent attitude on special features: could we see more Netflix special features shortly?

Despite being the leading distributor of digital movies, Netflix has been woefully short in unique features. The Stranger Things aftershow Beyond Stranger Things, a seven-episode roundtable series with the actors and crew of the smash Netflix show, was the closest the streaming service came to producing something comparable to a special feature. It was a good supplement for fans of the genre series. Still, it played awkwardly owing to the broadcast-only nature of after programs (they normally appear after the episode for a reason) and its website on the streaming service that compelled viewers to look for it. Although this was an unsuccessful attempt for Netflix, it demonstrated that special features on streaming platforms still have a place.

Then there’s the “More” section, which has a particular feature for The Other Side of the Wind.

Most Netflix titles are not “Netflix originals” and consequently come with extra features and deleted sequences not found on other home releases: Special features are included with Blu-ray, DVD, and iTunes purchases. So, why isn’t Netflix providing this more content?

It’s most likely due to licensing concerns, which is the primary distinction between a streaming service like Netflix and a digital shop like iTunes: users are ostensibly purchasing the film as well as any supplementary content (even if sometimes those purchases disappear). Meanwhile, Netflix charges a one-time price for access to a large library of movies. But what about Netflix’s original programming? Films like Mudbound and Okja, which have received critical acclaim, are unlikely to have a physical distribution, depriving moviegoers of the supplementary content that usually comes with these films. And don’t tell me there aren’t any special features in these films; I’d like to see a blooper reel of Jake Gyllenhaal breaking during his insane Okja performance. Will we have to wait until these films are released on Criterion? Or, like with The Other Side of the Wind, will Netflix surreptitiously reveal additional features?

It’s still an uncharted area, and Netflix has yet to take a position on the subject. For the time being, we’ll have to make do with Netflix’s YouTube featurettes.

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