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Netflix said to eliminate hundreds of classic titles

As of May 1, movies like the James Bond hit "Goldfinger" and Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" will not be available for streaming. But, 500 new titles, like "Mission: Impossible II," will be added.

"10 to Midnight" starring Charles Bronson will longer be available for Netflix streaming as of May 1.
Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

It appears to be expiration time again for certain movies on Netflix streaming, according to Slate. This time around, hundreds of classic titles from Warner Bros., MGM, and Universal will allegedly disappear from Instant queues on May 1.

That means goodbye Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories," "10 to Midnight" starring Charles Bronson, the James Bond hits "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger," and many more.

While this news may disappoint some users, streaming titles on Netflix tend to come and go. The video service often licenses TV shows and movies on an exclusive basis for a set amount of time. When those titles aren't watched frequently enough, the company will choose not to renew, Netflix spokesman Joris Evers told CNET. The goal for the company is to be a good programmer rather than a broad distributor.

"Netflix is a dynamic service, we constantly update the TV shows and movies that are available to our members," Evers said. "We will add more than 500 titles May 1, but we also have titles expiring, this ebb and flow happens all the time."

According to Slate, this latest purge of Netflix titles allegedly comes from this month's launch of Warner Archive Instant. However, Warner Bros. told CNET this is not the case.

"Warner Archive Instant is not involved in Netflix's business decisions and none of the titles that were pulled from Netflix yesterday are Warner Bros. owned," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. "Further, Warner Archive Instant content is drawn solely from the Warner Bros Entertainment library and we are not streaming Universal, or MGM/ United Artists owned content on this site."

According to Evers, many of the titles being removed were part of a deal with Epix. "The vast majority of the titles that expire on Wednesday are older features that were aggregated by Epix," Evers said. "We recently added many great, more recent titles such as ParaNorman (Universal), Hunger Games (Epix), Safe (Epix) and Bachelorette (Weinstein). Tomorrow we will also add MI:2, among many other titles."

Much to users' chagrin, Netflix's 4-year contract with Starz ended last year, which meant losing the streaming of hits like "Scarface," "Young Frankenstein," "Toy Story 3," and "Gangs of New York." The loss of these titles came as a big blow to Netflix because Starz also owns the Internet rights to many movies from Disney and Sony Pictures.

While Netflix may be now reeling in some of its classic titles, it's still going head-on into exclusive original content, like it's Web series "House of Cards" and "Hemlock Grove." Earlier this month, CEO Reed Hastings said that the company was completely focused on "moving toward more and more exclusive content."

Those users who want to see exactly which TV shows and movies will be expiring tomorrow can look at a list put together by the Web site InstantWatcher.

Update, May 1 at 2:45 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Warner Bros. representative.

Correction, May 1 at 2:45 p.m. PT: The original version of this article said Warner Bros. has exclusive rights to some of MGM's and Universal's classic movies. That's not so.