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Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes in a still from Enola Holmes 2. This movie kicks off a slew of sequels to some of Netflix’s best-loved movies. Photo: Netflix

Enola Holmes 2, Extraction 2 and more – Netflix movie sequels show it is eager to develop more franchises like Stranger Things

  • Netflix has poured money into making movies, and now has enough proprietary films and characters to invest in sequels and potentially franchises
  • Daniel Craig will soon be back as Benoit Blanc, and in 2023 look forward to Murder Mystery 2, with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, The Old Guard 2, and more

It’s easy to forget that the Netflix original film department is still rather young. Five years ago, the streaming service didn’t even really have one. But things move quickly in the competitive streaming world, especially when starting from scratch.

Now, with a robust library of proprietary and commercially minded films and characters, Netflix is leaning into another important pillar of the movie business: sequels.

It has dabbled before, with romantic comedies and teen-focused fare like The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but with a breakneck annual output, Netflix has now amassed enough of its own intellectual property to develop franchises in more genres, including adventure, mystery, comedy, action and thrillers, created by and starring some of the industry’s biggest names.
Kicking off with Enola Holmes 2, which is newly available to stream and sees Millie Bobby Brown back as the spirited young detective, Netflix has a slew of starry, high-profile follow-ups to some of their most successful films on the way.
Lana Condor in a still from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Photo: Netflix
Later this year, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will bring Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc back to solve a new murder case on a private Greek island.
In 2023 and beyond, Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role as black ops mercenary Tyler Rake in Extraction 2, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler will reunite for Murder Mystery 2, and Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne will be back as immortals in The Old Guard 2.
Chris Hemsworth in a still from Extraction. Photo: Netflix

“Our goal was always to build stories and films and characters that we can return to,” says Netflix executive Kira Goldberg. “We’re finally at that moment, we’re feeling really good about it.”

Goldberg and Ori Marmur co-head the studio film team at Netflix under global film chief Scott Stuber. Both were veterans of traditional studio filmmaking, with Goldberg having come to Netflix from Fox, where she oversaw the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman, while Marmur came from producing films like Escape Room and The Green Hornet.

“We loved the idea that we could come to a studio that was starting from scratch,” Marmur says. “That just doesn’t happen, especially not at this scale.”

Kira Goldberg, vice-president of Netflix’s original film studio. Photo: Getty Images

In the years they’ve been at Netflix, they’ve been able to draw on relationships they’ve made over the years and also forged new ones with directors, writers and talent they wanted to work with. They also knew they had to play catch-up with the legacy studios that had a century of intellectual property at their disposal.

“It’s pretty impressive that sequels are a conversation and a reality,” says Mary Parent, who produced both Enola Holmes movies.

The sequel was put into motion soon after it hit Netflix in September 2020, with Brown, Henry Cavill, writer Jack Thorne and director Harry Bradbeer all on board. An estimated 76 million households streamed the lively detective story in its first four weeks.
Ori Marmur runs Netflix’s original film studio along with Kira Goldberg. Photo: Getty Images

“We mobilised really quickly,” Parent says. “You try not to take it for granted. And you try to raise the bar on yourself, to up the storytelling, up the stakes with everything that you loved about the first but also something new.”

The sequel strategy is not so unlike that at traditional studios: they want to keep viewers coming back for familiar characters. And it’s an equation that has proved effective with Netflix’s most popular television shows, like Stranger Things, Bridgerton, Squid Game and The Witcher.

There may not be a set formula or mandate around what gets another film, but most are among Netflix’s most-watched originals. In their first four weeks, The Old Guard was seen by 78 million households and Extraction drew in 99 million households, according to data provided by Netflix.

Charlize Theron (left) and Kiki Layne in a still from The Old Guard. Photo: Netflix

“[Extraction] obviously benefited from the timing of its release, which was at the early days of the pandemic,” says Mike Larocca, the co-founder and vice-chairman of AGBO Productions, the company that produced the movie. “But they were very supportive of the sequel script before that. We were prepared to move quickly and they didn’t wait for the performance.”

Part of the Netflix equation is looking at genres that either aren’t getting made at the big studio level any more or aren’t getting enough audiences at the cinema to make them worth investing in frequently, like teen romcoms.

As a classic stunt-driven action movie, Extraction, Larocca says, was in that “dreaded middle that was getting killed theatrically”.

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“People still want to see big, practical stunts and exotic locations and a really cool hero at the centre,” Larocca says. “I think given their model, they’re able to make it at a higher budget than theatrical would have supported because their numbers look different.”

The notable exception is Glass Onion, as Knives Out did not originate at Netflix. But the streaming giant saw an opportunity in Rian Johnson’s fun murder mystery, which was a hit at the box office, and potential in spinning out more stories anchored by Craig’s shrewd detective.

It shelled out US$450 million (HK$3.5 billion) for two sequels. There is also a Luther film in the works, based on the hit crime series, with Cynthia Erivo, and a reimagining of Spy Kids, with Robert Rodriguez on board to write and direct.

Daniel Craig in a still from Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Photo: Netflix

“They’ve really succeeded in creating an environment where I think people can do their best work,” Parent says. “They’re there to offer support but don’t create unnecessary obstacles. They don’t overly micromanage, which can sometimes kill creativity. They understand the balance … And the power of their platform is undeniable.”

At Netflix, Goldberg and Marmur have also found opportunities in working cross-functionally with other departments.

“When I worked at other traditional studios, I didn’t know who was in the series team. I didn’t know who worked in consumer products. There was never any communication,” Goldberg says. “Here, we get in a room together all the time. We strategise collectively.”

Kira Goldberg worked for various film studios including DreamWorks and Fox before becoming the director of Netflix’s original film studio in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Case in point: When developing the graphic novel Brzrkr as a live-action film with Keanu Reeves, they also committed to an anime series so he could “have the best of both worlds” since the artwork was so important to him.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out how we can do things in different, innovative and cool ways,” Marmur says. “It’s not rare to have a conversation with a filmmaker about how their film can branch into other things.”