Lisa Nishimura Joins Netflix’s Film Group

Longtime Netflix documentary/comedy executive Lisa Nishimura is getting expanded duties as the subscription streaming video pioneer consolidates management.

Nishimura, a former home entertainment executive at Palm Pictures until joining Netflix almost 12 years ago, expands her title to VP of independent film & documentary features, overseeing independent films, English & non-English docs, documentary shorts, and limited documentary series.

Her production credits include 2018 Oscar-winning cycling doping doc, Icarus, Oscar-nominated The 13th and 2017 Oscar-winning The White Helmets, in addition to Primetime Emmy-winning docueries Making a Murderer and Wild Wild Country

She now reports to Scott Stuber, VP of original film, instead of Cindy Holand, VP of original content.

Lisa Nishimura, Brandon Riegg

“Lisa blazed a trail within Netflix building our documentary and comedy initiatives, and we’re so lucky to have her expand her role into indie films,” Stuber said in a statement. “Lisa joins Matt Brodlie and Ian Bricke, who have built our indie film business over the last several years. Together they will continue to deepen our talent relationships and give diverse and unique storytellers a home to share their films. I’m looking forward to working alongside Lisa, Tendo Nagenda and David Kosse as we grow our film studio.”

Separately, Brandon Riegg,  VP unscripted originals & acquisitions, remains in charge of unscripted originals while expanding duties to include comedy specials, including standup. Riegg, who joined Netflix in 2016, now reports to Holland.

“I look forward to supporting Brandon and his team as he brings enthusiasm and proven talent to this expanded role, and as they chart the future of non-fiction English language programming for Netflix,” said Holland.


Netflix Enhances International Film Management

Netflix has hired David Kosse as VP of international film at its growing London office. Kosse, who was president of international at STX, begins next month reporting to Netflix film boss Scott Stuber in Los Angeles.

In addition to working on original movies coming from the U.K., Kosse spearheads foreign film production, including non-English language movies.

“We want to make significant movies [like Oscar-nominated Roma and Intouchables] which will have a big impact in major markets such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain but which can also travel to our subscribers around the world,” Kosse told Deadline. “The focus right now for this division is to establish the foreign language movies in the same way Netflix has established series that have travelled.”

Separately, Netflix hired Teresa Moneo as director of international film based in London. Moneo previously worked for Ola Films and Focus Features.

Teresa Moneo

In addition, Funa Maduka, director of international film and acquisitions, is relocating from London to Los Angeles in an expanded role that includes production management. Maduka’s acquisitions include Happy as Lazzaro, Divines and On Body and Soul.

 “With the majority of our audience outside the U.S., it’s the right time for us to be building our international film presence,” said Stuber in a statement.

Funa Maduka

“Having worked with David for years at Universal, I know there’s no one better suited for this role. David will be joined by Funa Maduka, whose eye for foreign cinema has contributed greatly to our celebrated international slate, and Teresa Moneo, who has an incredible acquisition and production track record and will be a great addition to Netflix. I’m incredibly excited to see what this team will do.”

Meanwhile, Cindy Holland, VO of Original Content, told an industry conference in Jerusalem, Israel that Netflix continues to spearhead as an on-demand TV ecosystem in its “very early” stages.

Holland said Netflix knows within 28 days whether original programming has resonated with subscribers.

“We’re sizing up the audience and how much to invest. If that audience doesn’t show up to that level, what is the reason to continue to invest as we hoped?,” Holland said. “Our first priority is to entertain the members in our worlds, and if we don’t do that, we won’t continue to thrive in our world.”


Netflix Reverses Script, Bowing Three Movies Theatrically

The old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” has been taken to heart by Netflix when it comes to theatrical releases.

The streaming video-on-demand behemoth revealed it will debut original movies Roma, from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity); The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen) and post-apocalyptic thriller Bird Box, from Danish helmer Susanne Bier (Oscar-winning In a Better World) in limited domestic theatrical releases – ahead of streaming.

Netflix, through a longstanding mandate by CCO Ted Sarandos to upend the theatrical window, has always made its original movies available theatrically and streaming at the same time.

The stance has angered the Hollywood status quo, notably some film festivals (Cannes) and exhibitors – the latter refusing to screen Netflix movies also available to its 130 million subscribers.

It has also kept Netflix movies out of Oscar award consideration, whose voters apparently prefer watching new titles in the theater. And Netflix feels it has a trio of possible contenders. Hence the policy the change.

As a result, Roma will bow in theaters in select markets Nov. 21, followed by streaming on Dec. 14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (featuring Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson and Stephen Root, among others) will hit the box office on Nov. 8 – eight days ahead of streaming. The same time gap for Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson, which hits screens Dec. 13 and SVOD on Dec. 21.

“These upcoming engagements are following the success of our theatrical and Netflix releases of Private Lifeand 22 July,” Scott Stuber, head of original films at Netflix, said in a statement. “There’s been an overwhelming response to all of our films this festival season, including Outlaw King, which will be in theaters and on Netflix next week, and this plan is building on that momentum.”

Stuber said the policy change reflects the Netflix’s desire to attract the best filmmakers and talent.

Indeed, one of Netflix’s first original movies – Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah, and directed by Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”) was ignored by the Academy Awards despite strong critical reviews. A move many saw as an industry rebuke of Netflix’s release strategy.

“Our members benefit from having the best quality films from world class filmmakers and our filmmakers benefit by being able to share their artistry with the largest possible audience in over 190 countries worldwide,” said Stuber.