Netflix’s CEO thinks Barbie and Oppenheimer could have been just as successful on the streaming service, and pigs have just learned to fly


Ted Sarandos, CEO of Netflix, thinks that there isn’t “any reason to believe” that Barbie and Oppenheimer couldn’t have done just as well on the streaming service.

There is zero doubt that Barbie and Oppenheimer were two of the biggest films of 2023. Barbie managed to gross almost $1.5 billion globally, making it the highest grossing film of the year, with Oppenheimer only half a billion behind putting it in third place – not to mention all those awards it one. The two films obviously fueled each other as well, what with them releasing on the same day, leading to the Barbenheimer meme. It was a big summer for cinemas, and people made a whole event out of seeing both films back to back, a feat that is impossible to replicate but one clearly born out of the joy of going to the cinema. And for some reasons, Sarandos still thinks they could have done just as well on Netflix.

The Netflix CEO recently spoke with The New York Times in a big fancy profile, talking all things streaming, where the topic of both Barbie and Oppenheimer came up. “Both of those movies would be great for Netflix,” Sarandos said in the interview. “They definitely would have enjoyed just as big an audience on Netflix. And so I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that certain kinds of movies do or don’t work. There’s no reason to believe that the movie itself is better in any size of screen for all people. My son’s an editor. He is 28 years old, and he watched Lawrence of Arabia on his phone. But it is just an interesting thing. At every new development of technology, there’s wins for the audience.”

Now, here’s the thing, Teddy – is Teddy OK? There’s just no way that would be true. Event movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer just wouldn’t be as big on streaming, and wouldn’t nearly have as much longevity as a film at the box office, culturally speaking anyway. To this day Netflix has barely made an impact during awards season, and while I know awards aren’t everything, and there’s some issues with rules surrounding that too, it does show you the kind of cultural impact Netflix has had.

You can lie to yourself all you want, Teddy, but people like going to the cinema sometimes, particularly for films like Barbie.

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