The Netflix Classics Massacre of 2015

mara_Corday-screamsUpdated 7/6/15

The comings and goings on Netflix Instant have become headline news for every site on the Internet, with monthly additions and subtractions reported with near-Kardashian fervor.

But as Americans dim their digital devices and hit the beaches and barbecues this holiday weekend, the world’s most popular streaming service is making some changes nobody is talking about. On Sunday July 5, Netflix is quietly purging more than 200 movies, TV shows and documentaries from its library without warning or explanation. No genre or era is immune from these expirations, with classic films (as always) taking the hardest hit. Even Netflix’s usually secure collection of Pre-1930 titles is facing the ax, with 19 silent movies reportedly disappearing Sunday at midnight (local time – Netflix rolls their expirations out across the time zones).

“It’s a massacre,” said David Speranza of What’s On Netflix Now, a curated blog that tracks what’s notable on the streaming service. “The (previous) big purges were always noted by the media, but this one has been done off-schedule so no one notices.”

Netflix typically doesn’t announce impending deletions (which usually have to do with licensing expirations), so Speranza does his own research and relies on reporting from eagle-eyed readers. Speranza’s site first reported this news on Friday, and updates continue to flow in in the comments.

“Netflix is increasingly stingy about sharing this info, but this is unprecedented, because it’s being done so sneakily,” he added via direct message. “They’ve been dropping more and more titles without any notice at all.”

Poster_-_Quiet_Man,_The_01Admittedly, many of the films disappearing in this purge are obscure and unlikely to be missed by many. But these expirations are in addition to the hundreds of titles that left the service at the end of the June, including THE QUIET MAN (1952), THE APARTMENT (1960), THE GRADUATE (1967), THE ODD COUPLE (1968), PATTON (1970) and TAXI DRIVER (1976). While high profile older films like these routinely cycle in and out, it’s the niche titles that are increasingly being shown the door.

That’s bad news for fans of any retro content, but classic TV lovers have reason to be be concerned by a spate of recent deletions.

As Netflix directs financial resources toward in-house productions like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Bloodline, Grace and Frankie, and Marvel Comics spin-offs it can control in all the markets it serves, classic TV reruns licensed on a territory-by-territory basis are increasingly becoming an endangered species.

In June the streamer axed all episodes of the original Mission: Impossible (1966-1972) and the first ten seasons of Hawaii Five-O (1968-1979), along with Knight Rider (1982-1985), the ABC mini-series The Winds of War (1983), Beauty and the Beast (1987-1989), Amazing Stories (1985-1986), Wings (1990-1996), Young Indiana Jones (1992-1993), and Melrose Place (1992-1998).

And the bloodletting continues this month with Dragnet (1967-1970) and Miami Vice (1984-1988) nabbing their last perps on July 14 and Leave it to Beaver (1957-1962), ADAM-12 (1968-1975), Quincy M.E. (1976-1983, and Magnum P.I. (1980-1988) streaming off into the sunset on July 29. All told, that’s nearly 2,000 episodes of classic TV that will disappear from Netflix Instant in just four weeks.

The good news is that many of these shows are still available via Amazon Instant, iTunes and other VOD services, but you’ll have to pay to own them, per-episode or per-season. And that’s increasingly the digital business model for all but the best-known classic films and shows. As daily Netflix viewership threatens to exceed that of broadcast TV,  rights holders are increasingly fighting back by diverting content they control to branded subscription portals like CBS All Access, which now streams Mission ImpossibleHawaii Five-0, Beauty and the BeastMelrose Place, and Wings. (Note that while the latter two didn’t originally air on CBS, they were produced by corporate cousin Paramount and are now controlled by CBS Television Distribution.)

Ironically, as streaming transforms the TV business, the classic films and reruns that were once inexpensive fodder for programmers may end up costing fans more than they bargained for.

netflix

July 5 pre-2000 GOINGs (Note: updated 7/6/15 with additional expirations (titles w/out links). 

ORPHANS1920s (Silent) – 17
Fantômas II: Juve vs. Fantômas (1913)
Fantômas III: The Murderous Corpse (1913)
Fantômas IV: Fantômas vs. Fantômas (1914)
Fantômas V: The False Magistrate (1914)
Cabiria (1914)
The Doll (1919)
Harakiri (1919)
Anna Boleyn (1920)
Sumurun (1920)
Orphans of the Storm (1921)
The Wildcat (1921)
Warning Shadows (1923)
The Hands of Orlac (1924)
Strike (1925)
The Beloved Rogue (1927)
Tempest (1928)
A Throw of Dice (1929)

1930s – 4
Earth (1930, Silent)
The Struggle (1931)
Happiness (1935, Silent)
Rhodes of Africa (1936)

1940s – 6 
Charley’s Big Hearted Aunt (1940)
I Thank You (1941)
Allotment Wives (1945)
Fashion Model (1945)
My Brother’s Keeper (1948)
Once a Jolly Swagman (1949)

1950s – 23 
Prelude to Fame (1950)
So Young, So Bad (1950)
The Rocking Horse Winner (1950)
Meet Me Tonight (1952)
Egypt by Three (1953)
The Large Rope (1953)
Canyon Crossroads (1955)
Simba (1955)
The Boss (1956)
Checkpoint (1956)
Emergency Hospital (1956)
Flight to Hong Kong (1956)
Three Bad Sisters (1956)
Dangerous Exile (1957)
Hell Bound (1957)
Just My Luck (1957)
Monkey on My Back (1957)
Machete (1958)
The Mugger (1958)
Violent Playground (1958)
Counterplot (1959)
The Last Mile (1959)
Pier 5, Havana (1959)

awfuldrorlof1960s – 28 
Cage of Evil (1960)
The Music Box Kid (1960)
September Storm (1960)
Vice Raid (1960)
The Cat Burglar (1961)
The Clown and the Kid (1961)
A Cold Wind in August (1961)
Flame in the Streets (1961)
Mary Had a Little (1961)
All Night Long (1962)
The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962)
The Sadistic Baron von Klaus (1962)
Incident in an Alley (1962)
Bitter Harvest (1963)
The Ceremony (1963)
Escape from Hell Island (1963)
It’s All Happening (1963)
It’s All Over Town (1963)
That Kind of Girl (1963)
Day of the Nightmare (Don’t Scream, Doris Mays) (1965)
Primitive London (1965)
Knives of the Avenger (1966)
David Holzman’s Diary (1967)
Dr. Orlof’s Monster (1967)
Killers Three (1968)
The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968)
It Rains in My Village (1968)
Confessions of Tom Harris (1969)

1970s – 21 
Gentlemen in White Vests (1970)
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970)
Leo the Last (1970)
Love 600 (Stehaufmadchen; Jill in the Box) (1970)
Die Screaming, Marianne (1971)
Burke and Hare (1972)
Face Off (Winter Comes Early) (1972)
Crimson (1973)
The Diamond Hunters (1975)
Flying Devils (1975)
Someone I Touched (1975)
Deadly Hero (1975)
The Belle of Amherst (1976)
Brotherhood of Death (1976)
Crime and Passion (1976)
Million Dollar Rip-Off (1976)
Cracking Up (1977)
Mad Bull (1977)
Terraces (1977)
The Getting of Wisdom (1978)
On the Yard (1978)

WELLES1980s – 27 
The Club (1980)
For the Love of It (1980)
Joe Dancer: The Big Black Pill (1981)
Joe Dancer: The Big Trade (1981)
Joe Dancer: The Monkey Mission (1981)
Leave ‘Em Laughing (1981)
Maya (1982)
The American Snitch (1983)
Camera Afrique (1983)
Chinese Boxes (1984)
A Matter of Sex (1984)
Where is Parsifal? (1984)
Condor (1986)
The Eleventh Commandment (1986)
Revolt (1986)
I Love New York (1987)
Keys to Freedom (1988)
The Family Album (1988)
Goodbye, Supermom (1988)
In Dangerous Company (1988)
The Last of England (1988)
Never on Tuesday (1988)
Cold Feet (1989)
Lady in a Corner (1989)
Lost in New York (1989)
Marked for Murder (1989)
Ministry of Vengeance (1989)

1990s – 30
The Day We Met (1990)
Dead Sleep (1990)
Assassin of the Tsar (1991)
Shoot (1991)
Almost Blue (1992)
A Demon in My View (1991)
Intimate Stranger (1991)
Carry on Columbus (1992)
Hammer Down (1992)
Primary Motive (1992)
Rain Without Thunder (1992)
Those Secrets (1992)
And God Spoke (1993)
The Nostradamus Kid (1993)
Dead Beat (1994)
…At First Sight (Two Guys Talkin’ About Girls) (1995)
Destination Vegas (1995)
Hourglass (1996)
Nobody’s Business (1996)
Where Truth Lies (1996)
Cupid (1997)
Flipping (1997)
Honeymoon (1997)
The Roe’s Room (1997)
Frogs for Snakes (1998)
Pete’s Meteor (1998)
After the Rain (1999)
Beautiful People (1999)
The Fumbleheads (1999)

There are also more than 60 post-2000 expirations including episodes of the Ken Burns documentaries Jazz (2001), The National Parks (2009) and The Dust Bowl (2012), as well as other PBS content. For the complete list visit What’s on Netflix Now. This story was updated July 5 with clarifying information. For some background on how Netflix decides what stays and what goes, read this

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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31 Responses to The Netflix Classics Massacre of 2015

  1. kelleepratt says:

    Sheesh!! What a list!

  2. Wow. What a list. I would also like to invite you to participate in my upcoming blogathon in August. The link is below with more details

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/in-the-good-old-days-of-classic-hollywood-presents-the-barrymore-trilogy-blogathon/

  3. armand says:

    Dear Netflix…”You realize, This means WAR!!!”…..Of All the films that have been removed, the loss of “Fumbleheads,” (WHA???) is the most significant!!

  4. Interesting article but the best way to make sure that you can watch your favorites when you want to is to purchase them. I find it odd that the writer didnt talk about buying the DVD or Bluray of some of these. Yes you can purchase via Ultraviolet download etc but you also have a choice of physical purchase.

    • James Childress says:

      Not all of the classic TV shows are available in the level of quality Netflix offered. Shows like Quincy and Emergency! were streaming in HD. These are not shows you would expect to see a Blu-Ray release. Netflix was the only way to watch them in HD.

      • Kirk says:

        It’s HIGHLY unlikely that either Emergency or Quincy was remastered in true HD for streaming. If they had been, they would have been released on Blu-Ray as well because the biggest expense for such a release is the remastering itself. What they likely did was simply upscale the existing standard definition masters. Then they compressed it to send it over the internet, so what you ultimately saw was of lower quality than if you played a DVD in a DVD player that had decent upscaling, or to a TV that did the same (most of the modern TVs and DVD players have great upscaling capabilities now).

      • James Childress says:

        I assure you it is a 1080p scan otherwise it would look terrible on my big screen 4k TV like most upscaled SD content does. You are correct in saying remastering is expensive so it unlikely they did anything more complicated than a scan of the film archive.

  5. Kelly says:

    Don’t worry I forgot about Netflix with advert of Buzzrtv network Decades and other OTA channel I am good with old movies and tv shows LOL! I prefer Brit version of House of Cards

    Kevin Spacey hellva of actor he is no Ian Richardson trust me LOL!

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