It may be an apocryphal story, but Reed Hastings is said to have come up with the idea for Netflix after his local Blockbuster store asked him to cough up $40 for an overdue copy of Apollo 13. The platform is now available in more than 190 countries, and has over 83 million subscribers. As the story of Netflix is written, 2018 will possibly be remembered as a landmark year. Last year alone, Netflix debuted more than 700 original releases across movies, TV shows and comedy specials. To create this much original content, and distribute it via one’s own platform and nowhere else, is almost unheard of in the history of TV and cinema.
The Hollywood studio system has always owned the stars and created the content. The films were their intellectual property; the rental platforms only existed to distribute their original programming. Netflix’s aggressive foray into both production and distribution is an inversion of a tried, tested and enduring industry arrangement. It is, in other words, a massive, audacious power-grab.