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"Crouching Tiger," Meet "Billy Madison": Now Netflix Is Making Movies With Adam Sandler, Too

The star of "The Waterboy" and "Punch-Drunk Love" will make four movies for the streaming video service.

screenshot by Re/code
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Yesterday Netflix said it was getting into the movie business by financing the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Here’s the sequel to that announcement: It’s going to make Adam Sandler movies, too.

The streaming service says it will fund four movies made by and starring Sandler, and that the movies will run exclusively on Netflix. Unlike the “Crouching Tiger” announcement, there’s no mention of these movies appearing in actual movie theaters; Sandler is still going to make movies with traditional studios as well.

The big picture is that Netflix is set on identifying itself as a place to see new movies, in addition to new TV shows. Even though most of its catalog will be TV shows and movies that have already appeared in other places.

A Netflix press release says that Sandler’s movies are among it most popular offerings — though few of his titles are currently available to Netflix’s streaming subscribers in the U.S. — so the deal makes sense from that perspective. Sandler looks like he hit his commercial peak several years ago, which also makes sense — buying four Adam Sandler movies is much cheaper in 2014 than it would have been in 2004.

Still, Adam Sandler is a big, well-known Hollywood star, so landing him will generate lots of buzz for Netflix, which is at least part of the point. But unlike the “Crouching Tiger” sequel, these movies won’t create conflict with the movie theater chains — if you want to, you can consider them the equivalent of “straight to DVD” movies — so Netflix will likely get less ink for this move.

This is a good time to note that Sandler, who became enormously popular playing dumb people in dumb movies, has also shown an interest in making movies that go out of their way not to appeal to his core audience. The best of these was 2002’s “Punch-Drunk Love,” which you can still see on Netflix today.

It would be cool if Sandler used his Netflix opportunity to explore more of that stuff, right? No? You disagree?

Then you will enjoy his press release quote: “‘When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only … Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks,’ said Sandler. ‘Let the streaming begin!!!!'”

Four exclamation points.

Anyway, it’s a logical experiment for Netflix, and the kind you can make when you have 50 million people paying you $10 or so a month. What’s next?

Here’s a reminder of Sandler at his most popular, from 1995’s “Billy Madison”:

And here’s more recent Sandler, from 2009’s “Funny People,” which most people didn’t like but I did. It’s not safe for work unless you work from home or with people who like hearing jokes about sex acts.

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