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Netflix to bankroll and premiere four Adam Sandler movies

The "Happy Gilmore" and "Billy Madison" star will bypass theatres to appear online first.

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Actor Adam Sandler celebrates his Kids' Choice Awards in March 2014. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Netflix is off to make it big in Hollywood. The popular international movie and TV streaming service is bankrolling four feature films produced by and starring Adam Sandler.

Developed by Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, the four films will be solely financed by Netflix and will premiere online in the nearly 50 countries where the streaming service is live.

"When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes," offers Sandler, demonstrating the comic nuance that has made him such a star, "for one reason and one reason only... Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks. Let the streaming begin!"

Sandler has grossed more than $3 billion globally at the box office with films like "Happy Gilmore", "Billy Madison", "The Wedding Singer", "Punch-Drunk Love", "The Waterboy", "Big Daddy" and "Grown Ups". Netflix describes him as one of the few stars with true international appeal, his films consistently ranking among the most viewed by Netflix members from Brazil to the UK.

That's Netflix's crucial advantage over traditional film studios and television channels: data. Netflix can look at what its millions of customers watch in very fine detail, spotting patterns in the things they like or dislike -- right down to seeing the exact moment when people give up on a movie or TV show. By crunching those numbers, Netflix is able to predict what will do well.

In practice, that means the service can, for example, order a full series of "House of Cards" safe in the knowledge that people who like Kevin Spacey and David Fincher are likely to watch it. By contrast, Spacey has lamented that TV networks were only prepared to order a pilot episode to see if the show would work out.

Netflix has also used that data to identify demand for a sequel to Ang Lee's martial arts classic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", which it was announced this week will premiere on the streaming service at the same time as in IMAX theatres. However, theatre chains have distanced themselves from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend," which is set to premiere on 28 August, 2015.

With streaming services now backing their own movies, the fight between rivals including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu is intensifying after each has backed a number of original series.

Other forthcoming Netflix projects include comedy specials from Chelsea Peretti, Bill Burr, and Bill Cosby. Netflix is also financing four series based on Marvel comics characters Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The services's most ambitious project to date, the four shows will culminate in a crossover mini-series.

Meanwhile Sandler will next be seen in theatres in " Men, Women and Children", Jason Reitman's examination of the role of technology in contemporary relationships. Also starring Jennifer Garner and Emma Thompson, the film integrates digital communication into the story by flashing up emails, instant messages and Web pages on the screen.