Update: Netflix Classic Film Comings + Goings – November, 2014

netflix1“Whenever there’s a movie I want to see, it’s never on Netflix!” my 7-year-old nephew complained, while relaxing in front of his Roku after an exhausting night of trick-or-treating in his 20-story New York City high rise. “It seems like they have mostly TV shows.”

While Sammy may have been buzzed on Kit-Kats and that fishy odor from the apartment on the 15th floor, he was definitely on to something: there is a growing perception that Netflix is a venue for episodic television first, with movies a distant second. The very concept of binge-watching requires multiple installments available all at once, far more likely to be done with, say, Orange is the New Black, rather than with Robert Altman movies. With the built-in “post play” feature that automatically jumps to the next episode, binge-watching has become part of the Netflix business model, and audiences are embracing it with surprising speed.

In a November, 2013 study commissioned by the streaming service and conducted by Harris Interactive, 61 percent of adults 18 and older said they binge-watch regularly, and 73 percent view binge-watching as positive. (Viewers defined binge-watching as “watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.”)

Even the news headlines generated by Netflix this week regard series content, not film acquisitions: a new, live action Richie Rich series from Dreamworks’ Awesomeness TV, debuting in early 2015; the first trailer for the 10-episode epic Marco Polo, coming in December; Sony Pictures Television’s soapy-sounding drama Bloodline (from the creators of Damages), premiering in March, 2015; F is For Family, an animated series focusing on the childhood of comedian Bill Burr, launching next year; and the third season premiere of Lilyhammer on November 21.

So it probably won’t surprise you that, for the third month in a row, Netflix is registering a net loss in films released before 2000. The 1980s take the biggest hit today, with 21 titles expiring and only 4 being added. All told, 42 “classic” films have taken their Halloween candy and left the service; only 20 have added.

Over the three months I’ve been tracking this, Netflix has removed or lost the rights to 119 pre-2000 films, with only 70 replacing them. That’s a pretty noteworthy net loss.

November 1 pre-2000 GOINGs – 42

butch_cassidy_and_the_sundance_kid_ver81960s – 4
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Conqueror Worm aka Witchfinder General (1968)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

1970s – 7
Silent Running (1971)
Breezy (1973)
The Odessa File (1974)
Vigilante Force (1976)
Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)
The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001)

1980s – 21
The Dogs of War (1980)
Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980)
Caveman (1981)
One from the Heart (1982)
The Escape Artist (1982)
Hammett (1982)
The Big Chill (1983)
Iceman (1984)
Cloak & Dagger (1984)
Starman (1984)
Footloose (1984)
King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Abel (1986) – Oct 28
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
Elvis ’56 (1987)
Broadcast News (1987)
La Bamba (1987)
The Great Outdoors (1988)
Say Anything (1989)
Steel Magnolias (1989)

1990s – 10
He Said, She Said (1991)
The Prince of Tides (1991)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Single White Female (1992)
Blown Away (1992)
Candyman (1992)
Trees Lounge (1996)
101 Dalmatians (1996)
Les Miserables (1998)
The Ninth Gate (1999)

November 1 pre-2000 COMINGs – 33

Airplane1960s – 5
Babes in Toyland (1961)
Hell Is for Heroes (1962)
Cleopatra (1963)
How to Steal a Million (1966)
The Crimson Cult (1968)

1970s – 3
Phase IV (1974)
Breakheart Pass (1975)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

1980s – 8
Airplane! (1980)
Heartburn (1986)
Stand By Me (1986)
Hiding Out (1987)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Rain Man (1988)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The Burbs (1989)

1990s – 17
Aracnophobia (1990)
Total Recall (1990)
The Rocketeer (1991)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Jennifer 8 (1992)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Addams Family Values (1993)
Trading Mom (1994)
Little Odessa (1994)
Live Nude Girls (1995)
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Braveheart (1995)
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Kingpin (1996)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Best Laid Plans (1999)
The Haunting (1999)

Primary source: What’s On Netflix Now Note: this article was updated 11/3/14 with additional “Comings” and returning titles for November added in italics. 


About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, video producer, print journalist, radio/podcast host, and social media influencer. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. My byline has appeared in Slate.com and more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a social media copywriter for Sony's getTV and a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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9 Responses to Update: Netflix Classic Film Comings + Goings – November, 2014

  1. Jennifer says:

    When Netflix first started, it seemed like such a great thing. We’d be able to see all of those hard-to-find movies we could never get at Blockbuster! Now I can’t even get the movies I want to watch from them on DVD, much less on streaming. They just aren’t interested in classic movie viewers at all.

  2. And nothing before the 1960s. 😦

  3. While I do agree that everything should be available if possible (and I suspect that content rights owners are the primary reason it is not). A lot of the stuff on the “Out” list is not a big loss, but there are some very important and great movies on the “in” list. I would say you are gaining better movies than you’re losing. At least as far as this one goes.

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