When Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) teamed up with Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production team on a deal for four movies it was easy to fear the worst. Sandler can be box office gold -- his movies have amassed more than $3 billion in ticket sales over the years -- but he also can cut loose with a real stinker (insert infantile Sandler joke here) from time to time. Just one of his last five live-action films topped $100 million in ticket sales in this country.
Would Sandler's camp take the deal seriously? Without box office receipts to publicly tally it would be easy to fall into the trap of offering up half-hearted or oft-rejected projects Netflix's way. The deal with Netflix will find the four flicks premiering exclusively on the premium video streaming platform worldwide, but it's still hard to track the popularity of content that's accumulating in Netflix's growing digital vault.
Thankfully it doesn't seem as if it will come to that. There's a pretty impressive cast reportedly lining up for the first movie of Sandler's deal, according to Hollywood tracker The Wrap. Ridiculous 6 -- a play on Western ensemble movies -- will find Sandler starring alongside Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Luke Wilson, Dan Aykroyd, and many of the regulars that appear in Sandler films. There are also a few up and comers including Whitney Cummings, Taylor Lautner, and Blake Shelton in the mix.
Sure, a comedy set in the Wild West may seem like a dicey proposition. A Million Ways to Die in the West rang up a disappointing $43.1 million in domestic ticket sales last year. Even Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron starring alongside Seth MacFarlane wasn't enough to save the critically panned turkey.
Then again, that may also be why this Sandler-penned script was available for Netflix. The Wrap reports that Ridiculous 6 was previously set up at two different studios before making its way to Netflix. If Paramount and Sony would've believed in the project it probably would have been out by now.
Ridiculous 6 begins production in February. There isn't a firm release date.
The multiplex is in the palm of your hand
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix may have started out as Hollywood outlets for serial dramas and other TV shows, but both dot-com darlings are now throwing their weight behind movies. It remains to be seen what Amazon will be able to drum up with its goal of bankrolling a dozen low-budget indie projects a year. It may hit pay dirt from time to time, but Netflix is aiming higher. Between this summer's highly anticipated sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and a star-studded Ridiculous 6 you can be sure that prolific Hollywood celebrities that had pet projects squashed by major studios will be lining up to meet with Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos.
It's easy for Netflix to justify the push into movies. Last year's rate increase is an unspoken promise to subscribers to keep spending on magnetic content. There are 57.4 million streaming subscribers worldwide for Netflix to divvy up its content obligation costs, and that number should be even higher by the time Ridiculous 6 hits an Internet connection near you.
Hollywood and movie critics are watching Sandler for a change. Happy Madison knows that it better not blow this.
Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.