Netflix Expands Its Indie Strategy With Slate Of New Acquisitions

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is expanding its global indie film strategy by working directly with independent filmmakers and producers to launch titles worldwide, simultaneously, in all Netflix territories. While Netflix reps declined to comment on the specific size of each investment, Netflix typically invests anywhere from 120%-130% of a project’s budget to buy out all rights. These projects in the indie scheme are believed to be under $2 million.

Among the new acquisitions is the directorial feature debut of creative studio Walter Robot, an untitled electronic music project starring Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Graham Phillips (The Good Wife) and Chris D’Elia (Undateable). Set amidst the biggest EDM festival in America, XOXO, the film follows six strangers whose lives collide in one frenetic, dream-chasing, hopelessly romantic night. Dylan Meyer wrote the script, and Netflix has worldwide rights and will release day and date with theatrical and transactional sometime in fourth-quarter 2015. 

Netflix has also acquired worldwide rights on Rebirth, a twisted psychological thriller from writer-director Karl Mueller (Mr. Jones) and producer Ross Dinerstein (The Pact, The Nightmare). An ordinary Joe finds himself way out of his depth when a weekend self-help retreat takes a series of increasingly bizarre turns. Casting is underway. Rebirth is produced by Campfire. Netflix will release day and date with theatrical and transactional in the fourth quarter of 2015. 

Also new to Netflix’s slate is The Most Hated Woman In America, starring Melissa Leo (The Fighter) in the true story of the controversial rise and untimely demise of Madalyn Murray O’Hair — iconoclast, opportunist, and America’s most outspoken atheist for the separation of church and state. Tommy O’Haver (An American Crime) wrote and will direct the film, and Pitch Perfect 2 producers Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks will produce through their Brownstone Productions. Again, Netflix has worldwide rights and will release day and date with its theatrical and transactional release sometime in 2016. 

That trio of projects joins the previously announced collaborations with the Duplass Brothers. Among them is 6 Years, starring Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) and Ben Rosenfield (Boardwalk Empire) in the second film from writer-director Hannah Fidell (A Teacher). The raw story of young love, produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, follows a young couple bound by a seemingly ideal love, which begins to unravel as unexpected opportunities spin them down a volatile and violent path and threaten the future they had always imagined. The film will be made available on September 8 this year.

The Duplass Brothers also have Manson Family Vacation,  starring Jay Duplass (Transparent), Tobin Bell (Saw) and Linas Phillips (Walking To Werner), about how a man’s comfortable life in Los Angeles is disrupted when his estranged brother comes to town to visit the infamous Manson Family murder sites. Together, the brothers journey from the Hollywood Hills to the Mojave Desert, and into the modern-day world of Charles Manson. That film will be made available on October 27 this year. 

Both the Duplass films will premiere on Netflix 30 days after their theatrical and transactional release. Netflix’s strategy, overseen by Erik Barmack, VP of Global Content, is to empower the producers and filmmakers as much as possible. As such. the producers will have the rights to strike deals for a theatrical components that complements the Netflix global release.

Deadline understands that Netflix is actively looking for more indie projects to fill out its slate and that the above titles are not a comprehensive list. The move confirms the SVOD giant’s ambitions to be a player at both end of the film business spectrum. While Netflix made a splash with its buzzy acquisition of Brad Pitt-starrer War Machine at a cost of anywhere between $40 million-$60 million — the above titles confirm that the company is also looking to offer its enviable global platform to filmmakers working at the lower scale of the budgets and dealing with edgier fare.

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