Adam Sandler, whatever his virtues, hardly seems like the kind of guy who might hold the fate of Hollywood in his hands. But when, recently, Netflix announced that it had signed a deal for Sandler to make four movies for its streaming service, and said that it would also be financing and streaming a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” journalists foretold an apocalypse for traditional moviegoing. The Sandler deal endangered “the underpinnings of the movie business.” It promised to “doom theaters” and “destroy the box office.” Who knew “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” mattered so much?
Netflix has always provoked hyperbole, with boosters saying that it will change everything and skeptics prophesying its imminent downfall. It has gone from Wall Street darling to Wall Street disaster and back again. Twice, the stock price has fallen more than sixty per cent in a matter of months—in 2011 and 2012—but, since the start of 2013, it has risen more than three hundred per cent. At the moment, Netflix can do no wrong. Practically everything the company does is being treated as radical and, of course, “hugely disruptive.”
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