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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Netflix’s head of film to depart

By Nicole Sperling

Scott Stuber, who brought Oscar-winning filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Jane Campion and Alfonso Cuarón to Netflix and in doing so helped to usher the entertainment industry into the streaming era, is leaving as the service’s film chair, the company said earlier this week.

News of Stuber’s departure came on the eve of the Oscar nominations. During his tenure, which began in 2017, Netflix has had eight films nominated for best picture, although a win in that category has proved elusive.

“Scott has helped lead the new paradigm of how movies are made, distributed and watched,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “He attracted unbelievable creative talent to Netflix, making us a premiere film studio.”

Although Stuber’s slate of movies helped to boost Netflix’s business substantially, he often clashed with Sarandos over strategy. Stuber often tried to appease filmmakers by pushing for wider theatrical releases than Sarandos was willing to undertake.

Still, Netflix received the most Oscar nominations of any studio in 2020, 2021 and 2022. In addition to critical hits such as Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” Stuber’s tenure also produced popular hits such as “Red Notice,” “Bird Box” and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”

He made big bets on filmmakers he wanted to lure to the studio, spending $450 million to secure two “Knives Out” sequels from Rian Johnson and more than $160 million for Zack Snyder’s recent release “Rebel Moon.” Greta Gerwig, who directed and co-wrote the blockbuster “Barbie,” is also working with Netflix on adapting a film based on the “Chronicles of Narnia” book series.

“Maestro,” a biopic of composer Leonard Bernstein, which was written, directed and stars Bradley Cooper, is one of the Netflix films expected to pick up several Oscar nominations this year. (Netflix was to announce its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.)

Netflix was sometimes criticized for prizing quantity over quality in its film strategy, a knock that Stuber acknowledged.

“I think one of the fair criticisms has been we make too much and not enough is great,” he said in an interview in 2021. “I think what we want to do is refine and make a little less better and more great.”

In a statement Monday, Stuber thanked Sarandos and Reed Hastings, Netflix’s co-founder and executive chair, for “the amazing opportunity to join Netflix and create a new home for original movies.”

“I am proud of what we accomplished,” he said, “and am so grateful to all the filmmakers and talent who trusted us to help tell their stories.”

Stuber is scheduled to leave in March and will be starting his own media company. Bela Bajaria, Netflix’s chief content officer, will assume Stuber’s duties when he leaves. Last year, she essentially became Stuber’s boss, putting a management layer between him and Sarandos.

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