Scarlett Johansson’s Netflix Movie Getting Canceled Was A Good Thing
Netflix's cancellation of Nancy Meyers' Paris Paramount is a good thing, because it's a sign Netflix is finally learning to say no.
Just a week after The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Scarlett Johansson was circling the Netflix film Paris Paramount, a rom-com with the history-making budget of $130 million, came the news it was canceled. Fans of the would-be director, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nancy Meyers, are not happy, and they’ve taken their complaints to social media. With no disrespect meant toward Meyers, Johansson, or anyone else involved in Paris Paramount, as someone who has been following and writing about Netflix-related news for the last couple of years, I am grateful for this development because it means the world’s biggest streamer may finally be learning how to say “no.”
According to THR’s first report on Scarlett Johansson’s Netflix flick, with a budget of $130 million, Paris Paramount would have been the single most expensive rom-com in the history of cinema. The reason the streamer passed on the film is because Meyers was reportedly insisting that $130 million wasn’t enough and that she needed $150 million. That puts it in the range of the kind of big-budget action spectacles that require mountains of practical and digital effects (2021’s Dune, for example, had a production budget of $165 million) and, no, before you ask, Paris Paramount is set in the present day and wouldn’t have any kind of science fiction or fantasy elements.
Nancy Meyer has historically asked for, and received, larger budgets than most rom-coms and if another studio says yes to what she wants, that’s none of my business. The reason I’m happy her proposed Scarlett Johansson-led Netflix film got canceled is because the streamer has a bad habit of throwing mountains of money at its original content. And that is my business — and very much your business if you’re a Netflix subscriber — only because in more recent history, the streamer has overspent and then, when it’s found itself in the red, it’s turned to its subscribers and screamed, “Stop sharing passwords, you parasites!”
All the way back to when the streamer first started producing original content, many of Netflix’s biggest and most fan-confounding cancellations were due to overspending. Long before the age of Wednesday, Squid Game, or The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix was eliminating series primarily because the budgets were breaking their back. Popular shows like Bloodline, Marco Polo, and Sense8 were all shuttered because of budgetary issues.
Sense8 is a perfect example. It was a hugely popular series that Netflix had no trouble getting people to stream, but it was costing them a staggering $9 million per episode, largely because it was shooting on location in 9 different major cities on 4 different continents. The streamer has spent so much money on series that in 2016 THR reported that the creators behind two different Netflix series — The Get Down and The Crown — were having a media shouting match over which series was the most expensive made in the history of television.
Stories like this, along with reports that 2021’s Red Notice cost somewhere between $250 and $300 million, made it not that big of a surprise that Scarlett Johansson’s new Netflix movie would be so expensive that it would make cinematic history. And again, in a perfect world, it would be none of my business how much money Netflix chooses to waste pretending Dwayne Johnson has acting range. My issue is that, until finally saying no to Meyers’ $150 million, the streamer seemed to simply keep vomiting gobs of money only to subsequently sober up and sob at its subscribers about password sharing.
Not to mention that while I’m sure people like Ted Sarandos are way better at knowing what they’re doing than I do, if Netflix is going to overspend, I can’t imagine why it keeps overspending on movies. Does anyone subscribe to for streamer’s movies whether they’re starring Scarlett Johansson or whoever else Netflix can rope in? It seems to me most people are keeping their subscriptions current because of binge opportunities presented by Bridgerton, Stranger Things, Squid Game, You, Emily in Paris, etc.
The good news is Nancy Meyers can still make a movie with Scarlett Johansson whether or not Netflix is on board. I can’t imagine what she needs $150 million for — Owen Wilson’s face won’t stop looking like that no matter how much money you throw at it — but if another studio that isn’t blaming me for its accounting problems green-lights it, godspeed.