Famed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s newest film, “High Flying Bird,” went straight to Netflix the other week and avoided going the cinema route.
Shot for just $2 million, it stars Andre Holland as a sports agent who works to relinquish a basketball lockdown with the help of rookie basketball player, including pitching an idea that would shake up their sporting world.
The film comes after Soderbergh’s last three directorial efforts came and went from the big screen without much fanfare beyond cinephiles. “Side Effects” made $66m off a $30m budget, “Logan Lucky” did $48.5m off a $29m budget, and “Unsane” made $14m off a $1.5m budget.
With its low price tag and with American sporting dramas rarely doing any box-office outside of the States, Netflix was a safe bet for the film. Speaking with Indiewire, the filmmaker has explained the two biggest draws for him to go direct-to-streaming had nothing to do with money – it was all about eyeballs and avoiding a long promotional grind:
“Look, if I can pry any information out of Netflix, I would absolutely assume that there will be more eyeballs on this thing on that platform than ever would have been on it in a theatrical version of release. It would seem impossible that that’s not the case.
The other thing is, there are other issues, you know, that sometimes don’t come up as often, but are relevant to me, and I’m assuming relevant to some other people, and that is I don’t have to chase this thing around the world selling it. I do it once. I do it here. That’s it, and that’s a big relief. That’s not a part of the process that I, like, look forward to, and to have that become efficient, and sort of surgical, is huge for me, you know?”
Soderbergh is happy enough with this arrangement that Netflix will also be releasing his next film, the much bigger budgeted Panama Papers movie “The Laundromat,” via the service. It’s expected that film will get a limited theatrical run by Netflix later in the year.