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Netflix buys Extinction, another sci-fi thriller the original studio didn’t want

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The Cloverfield Paradox might have been the start of a new game plan

The World Premiere Of Marvel Studios' 'Thor: Ragnarok' Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney

Netflix has purchased Extinction, a Michal Peña and Lizzy Caplan-led sci-fi thriller that Universal recently scratched from its release schedule, Variety reports. Netflix plans to release the movie later this year.

This move is similar to the platform’s pickup of Julius Onah’s The Cloverfield Paradox, which Netflix bought from Paramount and then surprise-released after the Super Bowl on Sunday night. That movie started its life as a project called God Particle, with producer J.J. Abrams only figuring out how to work it into the Cloverfield series midway through filming; it has received mostly negative reviews. The Cloverfield deal implied that Paramount saw an opportunity to offload a mediocre movie — for a reported $50 million — rather than go through the expense of a marketing campaign and theatrical release. Netflix is also handling the international release of Alex Garland’s anticipated adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, which Paramount will release theatrically in North America on February 23rd.

The strategy looks like a win-win for studios and for the streaming giant. Last October, Netflix announced plans to spend $8 billion this year so that 50 percent of its catalog would be made up of original content. Buying finished works that studios no longer want — for whatever reason — allows it to tack the “Original Content” label onto ready-to-go movies with name talent, without engaging in the lengthy development and production process. Netflix, obviously, has no need to shell out for lengthy marketing campaigns, either. A flop for them is also much less embarrassing (and less public, as they don’t release streaming numbers) than a flop for a major studio.

It’s probably not great news for Netflix subscribers, though, unless they were hoping to see the service become something of a content junk drawer.

Extinction stars Peña and Caplan as a married couple who have to protect their family during some kind of alien or otherwise supernatural invasion. It was written by Spenser Cohen (whose biggest credit is the 2013 TV movie Macklemore’s Big Surprise) and Brad Kane (Black Sails, Fringe) and directed by Ben Young, whose credits include a crime thriller called Hounds of Love and several prank shows.