Did Netflix really have to kill off Red Envelope?
Netflix's Red Envelope financed some excellent movies. Did it really have to be shut down?
With suitable tragi-comedy nuance, Netflix announced this week that it made more money in the 2nd quarter (yes, profit went up 4%) and that it was closing Red Envelope, its film financing and acquisition company.
It so happened that over the last couple of weeks, I happened to have three Red Envelope movies fly from my Netflix queue, via a deeply philosophical USPS mailman, to my door.
Did Netflix really have to take this depressing decision? All these three movies were surprisingly good.
I have no recollection whether the, with the deviously credible Stan Lanning as one of its chief agents, actually recommended these movies because of my predilection for, say, Talladega Nights.
But 'No End In Sight' (a documentary about a soupcon of Iraq War bungling), 'Protagonist' (a documentary about four men who latch on to strange obsessions in their lives. And none of them are techies) and 'Private Property' (a drama about a woman with a son more hideous than tasseled loafers) could all be termed, at the very least, classy.
Despite such successes, Netflix admits to giving at least 4 Red Envelopers pink slips. (Although I have also read that up to 75 employees might be released.)
I got the first part of that last sentence wrong. It is precisely because of such successes that Red Envelope is being shut down.
It appears that the Red Envelopers were rather good at picking the right movies behind which to put money. Which made the fabulous munificent studios that put vast sums behind dreck rather than Shrek incredibly hulkish.
After all, Netflix relies on deals with those studios to distribute all of their content. So Red Envelope had to be killed off, before even reaching its Second Act as a company.
One can only hope that the smart people this company employed can still practice their craft elsewhere. Such as in one of the fabulous munificent studios that put vast sums behind..ah, yes, we have a storyline dilemma here.
So here's a plot twist.
Perhaps Red Envelope consistently outbid the studios, but then never made any money.
I will walk into the sunset and contemplate that one.