First 'Tiger,' now Sandler - what's next for Netflix? By Brian Truitt and Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY 7:43 p.m. EDT October 2, 2014 (Photo: Universal) 3 COMMENTEMAIL Martial-arts epic one day, Adam Sandler the next. Only Netflix knows what other moves await in its new march on Hollywood. The subscription streaming service said Thursday that Adam Sandler will star in and produce four movies with his Happy Madison Productions company to air exclusively on Netflix. The deal comes on the heels of news earlier in the week that Weinstein Co. and Netflix are teaming for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, a sequel to 2000's Oscar-winning foreign-language martial arts film. It will be released in August 2015 at IMAX theaters and simultaneously to Netflix's 50 million subscribers. Netflix stock was up 2.55% Thursday to $449.98. "These are big stories. Down the road, people will see these as the benchmarks," says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "This is change, man, it's happening right now." We knew some of the best TV was heading to streaming services like Netflix, but movies? Now that Adam Sandler has inked a four-picture, straight-to-Netflix film deal with the service (he'll produce and star), it's time to take a look at the all the biggest celebs getting experimental - and going digital - today. (Photo: Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic) Sandler was a pioneer of sorts in the digital space with the web cartoon The Peeper released in 1999 during the nascent years of the Internet. And if he has carte blanche with Netflix, he may do sequels to some of his most beloved comedies from the '90s such as Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. More recently, Sandler movies have been lambasted critically — this year's Blended flopped and had a horrendous 13% "fresh" rating on the review-aggregate website RottenTomatoes.com. But with $100 million-plus hits like The Grownups and its sequels, Sandler still has some Hollywood cachet. USATODAY With 'Tiger' sequel, Netflix moves to stream new films "It's not like it's Rob Schneider," Bock says, adding that the Netflix move is big enough to make other celebrities think, "Wow, if Sandler's doing this, maybe I'll look into it." "This goes back to the old studio system when studios owned stars. Netflix owns Sandler for the next couple of years. Agents and managers are definitely going to take Netflix calls when they call for their client." It's an attractive situation for filmmakers, says Rupert Wyatt, director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He says it is harder to make narratively driven films at a time when movie theaters are being inundated with the "fireworks displays" of big tent-pole studio films. His next film, The Gambler, out in December, is the kind of drama not normally made by studios in the modern era, according to the filmmaker. Wyatt's not only pleased that Paramount made the step, but that Netflix presents a new way to bring real dramatic movies to audiences. "Any opportunity to tell a good story on different platforms is really appealing, of course," says Wyatt, a fan of the long-form dramatic television series championed by HBO and now Netflix. "For me, it's the best creative outlet for my generation of filmmaker." Ben Mankiewicz, a film historian and TCM movie host, points out that movie history is filled with threats from TV since the 1950s. "Movies are always going to be an event," he says. "That's always one thing television cannot quite do. Television is not an event. It's something you do at home. The thing you give up with this, is you give up the event nature of this. That's a bit of a loss. We have fewer and fewer events." However, Mankiewicz feels that the "enormous quality" of prestige television currently produced by HBO and Netflix — and all the best writers around heading to the small and streaming screens — has forced Hollywood's hand. "Netflix is more than capable of creating a serious movie. Maybe it's Adam Sandler comedies. But serious Oscar-bait movies could be produced on Netflix. " So who's the next big name to join Netflix? They may not because they're so in love with filmmaking and the theatrical experience, yet if directors such as Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan decided to throw their name into the streaming landscape, "that would be the game-changer that turns everybody's head," says Bock. "But Sandler's still a big enough star to get people to talk and continuing to talk. Crouching Tiger was the tip of the iceberg. Netflix is being very aggressive right now. To drop these bombs in the same week is big news, and obviously it's not all that they have in their cannon either."