Top Film Industry Stories of 2014 #5:
Netflix Poaches Sandler

By David Mumpower

January 7, 2015

Is he taunting Sony? He might be taunting Sony.

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Over the course of his career, Adam Sandler has proven to be one of the most dependable lead actors in the industry. Beginning with his first lead role in 1995’s Billy Madison, the comedian has starred in 20 comedies while also broadening his range in five dramatic roles. Additionally, he has provided the lead voice in a pair of animated movies and made numerous guest appearances in other films starring Sandler’s buddies. There was even a failed attempt to convert him into an action star in a long forgotten buddy cop movie called Bulletproof.

Adam Sandler has accomplished everything a person can in Hollywood with regards to box office success. He is the rare name above the title that will put butts in the seats. A dozen Adam Sandler movies won at least one weekend of domestic box office. Some of the titles that finished in first place may surprise you (Just Go with It and Funny People) while some of the ones that never did probably shock you (The Wedding Singer and Grown Ups).

In total, Adam Sandler’s movies as a lead actor have earned almost exactly $3.9 billion, which is only $600 million short of the storied Star Wars franchise. Sandler is a safe, reliable draw in addition to being universally regarded as one of the kindest men in Hollywood history. People love him, they love working with him, and their careers are improved by the constant success of his releases.

At the end of 2013, Forbes Magazine declared Adam Sandler to be the most overpaid actor in Hollywood. Their argument is that he provides the least bang for the buck in terms of salary compared to return on investment. Here is the precise wording, “We estimate that for every dollar Sandler was paid on his last three movies, the films returned an average of $3.40.”




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To be clear, they are not arguing that Sandler’s movies are a bad investment but rather than he is overpaid relative to his current market value. Using a baseball metaphor, Sandler overachieved early in his career, which allowed him to acquire a lucrative long-term contract. Now that he is past his prime, he is still a solid performer but wildly overpaid. Adam Sandler is the Derek Jeter of Hollywood. Unlike baseball, nobody retires in Hollywood when their skills are in decline.

I consider the above to be a harsh assessment of what Sandler brings to the table, as he has accumulated a more loyal fan-base than any actor over the past 25 years. Even his biggest clunkers such as That’s My Boy, Blended and Little Nicky have opened to double digits. In fact, only two out of 20 Adam Sandler comedies have failed to recoup their budgets. People who make movies would kill to have a 90% success rate in their craft.

On October 1, 2014, Netflix shocked the industry with their announcement that they had signed Adam Sandler to a four-picture deal. One of the most popular and proven actors in the industry will release a quartet of movies that will never experience a theatrical release. Instead, they will all debut on Netflix’s streaming video service. While the move is far from a death knell for movie theaters, it certainly has the feel of the beginning of the end.


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