The Australian screen industry and a bevy of Hollywood and Australian stars turned out in Sydney on Tuesday night for the launch of Netflix’s Australian service.
The US streaming giant’s CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos lavished praise on Aussie creativity and reaffirmed their desire to source local content.
“Australia is one of the great creative beds in the world for great films, television and documentaries,” Sarandos told a full house at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Foundation Hall.
Hastings stressed Netflix’s appetite for the best content, whether Danish thrillers, Argentine films or Australian productions. The CEO acknowledged, “I know we took too long to get here… It’s the culmination of so much work.”
Sarandos thanked reps from Netflix’s content partners including NBCUniversal, Disney, Roadshow, the ABC and Warner Bros. The last is significant because the streaming service has not yet announced a deal with that studio which is widely expected to align itself with Netflix, along with MGM and Studiocanal.
Netflix executives have initiated discussions with a number of Australian production companies with a clear but ambitious remit: “Give us projects we can screen worldwide."
Sarandos introduced a host of talent from Netflix original productions including Aussies Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Remy Hii (Marco Polo), Nikolai Nikolaeff (Marvel’s Daredevil) and Isabel Durant (Mako Mermaids).
Also in attendance were Daryl Hannah (Sense8), Lorenzo Richelmy (Marco Polo), Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll (Marvel's Daredevil) , Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Jennette McCurdy (Between) and Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
The event drew an impressive array of executives from Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, production companies, SBS and SBS International and major and independent distributors.
Sounding almost evangelical, Hastings recalled that in 2000 he and Sarandos were licking the envelopes of DVDs for Netflix’s rental-by-mail business. They had so little money the studios refused to sell them product so they stocked up at Wal-Mart.
“Today we launched in our 50th market,” Hastings said.
One media type at the function observed she had not seen one paid ad for Netflix. Given the power of the brand, the wealth of original content, deals with Optus, Fetch TV and myriad other platforms and devices and tonnes of free publicity, the company probably doesn’t need to spend a cent above-the-line.
Upon leaving each guest was given a goodie bag containing a Google Chromecast (rrp $49), a one-year Netflix subscription and two sub gift cards for family or friends.
Now that's classy.