Netflix vs. the World: Doc Explores History

Netflix vs. the World takes a look at the company’s history and how Blockbuster almost won the battle before Netflix ever had time to make their rise.

Long before Netflix became one of the leading streaming providers, they mailed DVDs to your home.  All the while, you could also rent movies from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video.  The 2000s proved to be a time for transition in the home video industry.  Why go to Blockbuster when you could just make a trip to your mailbox?  Blockbuster saw what was happening and they started their own direct-mail service.  Why wait for the mail to bring a new movie when you could just hop over to the store to exchange?  There are still Netflix subscribers that take advantage of the DVD service but these days, people just subscribe mostly for streaming.

Screenwriter Gina Keating is no stranger to the Netflix story.  She wrote a book, Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, a few years ago that told the company’s story.  It’s hard to believe that the book is almost a decade old now.  Meanwhile, the company is still going strong since Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings started the online DVD service in 1998.

While many of us have taken advantage of Netflix and other streamers during the quarantine, Netflix alone almost didn’t make it.  In the late 2000s, Netflix and Blockbuster were at war and this documentary shows just how the two went at it.  Only one of them, it turns out, could survive.  Going to Blockbuster, sadly, is nowadays a thing of the past.  Though if you can’t find a film you want to instantly watch on Netflix, you can pay just a bit more to rent by way of another service such as FandangoNOW, etc.

When House of Cards premiered on Netfix in 2013, it marked the streamer’s transition to original series.  While they still license other series and movies, the big focus these days is on their original films and series.  The rest, as they say, is history.

On camera, we get a number of key people on screen discussing their role and all that comes with it.  If there’s a negative, it’s that we don’t really get quality interviews with either Reed Hastings or Ted Sarandos.  All the Hastings footage comes by way of archival footage.  As for Sarandos, his appearances are not by way of original interviews.  Getting these two on camera to talk about Netflix in original interviews would obviously have improved the documentary.

Right now, the studios are looking to take out the middle man by starting their own streaming service.  What does this mean for Netflix?  Only time will tell.  We can look to the film for insight.  With Oscars under their belt, Netflix is unlikely to go anywhere even as they lose fan favorite series Friends and The Office.

Meanwhile, I’m about to blow your mind here.  For the time being, this documentary is only streaming on Amazon.  That’s right.  A documentary about Netflix is streaming on Amazon and nowhere else!

Netflix vs. the World is an insightful documentary that captures the battle for one company’s survival.

DIRECTOR:  Shawn Cauthen
SCREENWRITER:  Gina Keating
FEATURING:  Marc Randolph, Mitch Lowe, John Antioco, Nick Shepherd, Shane Evangelist, Bill Mechanic, Frank Smith III

Netflix vs. the World is currently available on Amazon. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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