By creating Netflix, Reed Hastings developed an original money printing machine.
Netflix will get $30 billion this year, or C$37 billion. That’s nine times the city budget of Montreal. Far from peaking as one might hope, Netflix’s revenue continues to grow. Bloomberg believes it squid game alone 891 million US dollars. Six to ten times what Netflix paid for the rights to Korean producers.
Of all the US services, Netflix is the most transparent, although it is still very confidential. In September 2014, Corey Wright, political director of Netflix, declined to disclose to the CRTC’s head the number of Canadian subscribers. Since 2019, Netflix has divided the world into four main regions for which its statistics are published. Nothing too compromising. For Canada, for example, Netflix estimates that we only have to divide by 10 the revenue from the UCAN region (USA and Canada)!
Melanie’s famous trip
In 2017, Melanie Jolie, then Minister of Heritage, returned in triumph from her now famous trip to Los Gatos, the birthplace of Netflix.
She said she had in her bag an agreement (never seen before) that Netflix would spend in Canada $500 million over five years. Five years expire. It’s clear that Netflix has spent a lot. But the greater part of these millions was invested in a production of which none Canadian but the sweat of our technicians and craftsmen.
On the French-speaking side, Netflix’s effort has been minimal. There were a few shows that we bought the rights to, the feature film up downhill From Patrice Laliberté, a few hundred thousand dollars for training schools and specialized scholarships, but nothing quite like what was spent in British Columbia and Ontario. In Toronto, Netflix occupies 250,000 square feet of studios in Pinewood and Cinespace and is headquartered in the capital of Ontario.
For the many artists and craftspeople who are indifferent to the origin of the production, the money Netflix spends here is a windfall.
Intellectual property specialist Michael Guest, who holds a chair at the University of Ottawa, is the leader of those convinced that our television and cinema no longer need help. The government, among other things, is the amount that Netflix spends in Canada.
Konrad von Finkenstein himself, president of the CRTC from 2007 to 2012, agrees.
Will they get the benefits?
Once the “new” C-10 Act, which will be introduced by Pablo Rodriguez, the “new” Heritage Minister, is adopted by the House of Commons, there is no guarantee that Banners Americans without first fighting teeth will accept the principle of paying a share of their income to produce original Canadian films and series.
Netflix, which today seems more docile than others, may be the first to want to dodge it, and make the most of all the money you’re already spending in Canada.
When Netflix, Disney and the rest contribute, they will certainly demand to take advantage of the benefits that their Canadian competitors are entitled to. Then we might find ourselves in the surreal situation of paying subsidies to companies like Netflix, whose production budget will reach $20 billion in 2023. Almost 20 times all of our television networks combined.
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