Netflix film chief Scott Stuber will leave the streaming giant to start his own firm

Los Angeles, CA - January 12: Ted Sarandos, Netflix CO-CEO and Scott Stuber, Chairman of Netflix mingled during the 2023 American Film Institute Awards, at Four Seasons Hotel , in Los Angeles, CA, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Ted Sarandos, left, Netflix co-chief executive, and Scott Stuber, chair of Netflix films, during the 2023 American Film Institute Awards in Los Angeles. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Netflix film chief Scott Stuber is leaving the streaming video giant to start his own media company in mid-March, the Los Gatos-based company confirmed Monday.

Stuber, who joined Netflix in 2017, oversaw the streamer's growth in the production and release of original movies, making Netflix one of Hollywood's biggest producers in terms of pure volume.

Under his tenure, the company released widely seen movies including the action flick "Red Notice" and sci-fi film "The Adam Project," as well as critically acclaimed films such as Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story," Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma" and Jane Campion's "The Power of the Dog."

"I am proud of what we accomplished and am so grateful to all the filmmakers and talent who trusted us to help tell their stories," Stuber said in a statement.

Stuber's departure was first reported by Bloomberg.

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Over the years, Netflix dove deeply into original films to entice more customers to buy and retain their subscriptions, spending $159 million on the Martin Scorsese crime epic "The Irishman" and close to $200 million for "The Gray Man," according to estimates.

The company experienced a surge in subscribers during the early days of the pandemic, but then in 2022 had subscriber losses in the first half of that year, sparking an industrywide reckoning with the streaming business model. Netflix has 247 million subscribers globally, making it the industry leader in subscription streaming video.

Rumors that Stuber was poised to leave Netflix had long swirled in the film industry.

Stuber oversaw a robust film operation working at a brisk pace.

In 2021, Netflix unveiled a 70-movie schedule, with a video that noted "New movies. Every week. All year.“ But in July 2022, Stuber told the New York Times that the company was reducing the volume of its movies and later that year Netflix restructured its film team. Last year, Netflix backed out of a Nancy Meyers project after a disagreement over the budget between the filmmakers and the streaming giant became public, according to people familiar with the matter who declined to be named.

"What they discovered probably about two years ago was they just weren’t getting return on movies," said Michael Pachter, a managing director of equity research with Wedbush Securities.

Read more: Netflix turns to first-time filmmakers for an edge in streaming wars

Netflix's high film output inevitably achieved mixed results. While the company produced multiple best picture Oscar nominees, its more populist action and comedy fare was often dismissed by critics.

Netflix's film strategy put streaming first, in contrast with traditional studios, which rely on theatrical box office for revenue. In recent years, Netflix has given limited theatrical releases to its major films, something Stuber encouraged, though the company does not disclose ticket sales.

After Stuber leaves in mid-March, Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria will serve as chair of Netflix film while she searches for someone to fill the role.

Bajaria became chief content officer last year and previously served as head of global TV. Bajaria's promotion made her Stuber's boss.

Read more: Netflix's foreign-language shows are booming. Meet the executive behind the streamer's global push

Prior to joining Netflix, Stuber founded Bluegrass Films, which was behind movies such as comedy “Ted” and was a former vice chair of worldwide production at Universal.

“Scott has helped lead the new paradigm of how movies are made, distributed and watched,” said Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos in a statement. “He attracted unbelievable creative talent to Netflix, making us a premiere film studio.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.