Netflix deletes 85 blockbuster movies and cult classics in New Year purge

It is thought the purged films will mainly concern US subscribers

Adam Sherwin
Thursday 02 January 2014 13:53
Orson Bean (center) and Cameron Diaz stars in the movie 'Being John Malkovich' (1999)
Orson Bean (center) and Cameron Diaz stars in the movie 'Being John Malkovich' (1999)

Binge viewers of movie classics and television obscurities suffered a New Year hangover after a host of titles including Platoon and Being John Malkovich disappeared overnight from the web streaming service Netflix.

Millions of subscribers woke up on January 1 to find that the service had purged some 85 titles ranging from True Grit and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the Mr Bean television series.

US Netflix users were those greatest hit by the deletion but British subscribers also lost acclaimed films including Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream.

Classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is now also among the expired. The Untouchables starring Sean Connery has also gone from the UK subscription offering.

Scroll to see the list of deleted films in full

Netflix, which allows users to watch films and television series on tablets, TV, PCs and gaming consoles, uses viewing data to decide which titles it makes financial sense to keep.

The majority of the expiring titles were what the company considers to be low-watched movies from independent studios.

Whilst the "kill list", according to the Reddit website, included the lesser-seen Killer Klowns From Outer Space, 1984 dance film Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and cult TV comedy series The Kids In The Hall, US customers also lost Spike Lee's acclaimed 1989 film Do The Right Thing and Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning Platoon.

Some of the removals are due to the expiration of licensing deals with Hollywood studios, which are demanding a higher price for Netflix to continue offering premium films and television series to its 40 million subscribers. Netflix claimed that a similar number of "blockbuster" movie titles will be added in January to compensate for those which have disappeared this week.

The company spends around $2.7 billion a year on content with the rate-per-episode for popular series like Mad Men rising to $750,000.

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Subscribers watch a billion hour of film and TV each month, with the largest percentage of viewing hours devoted to "binge viewing" of complete drama series, such as Breaking Bad, which UK fans could only watch to its conclusion through Netflix.

A Netflix spokesman said: "We have a continuous ebb and flow of titles on Netflix and that this isn't anything new. We always add titles as we secure rights and remove titles as our license expires. We are always looking to provide a great mix of things to watch that our members will love."

Netflix is focusing resources on producing its own original shows, such as House of Cards, a remake of the UK political thriller series, relocated to Washington D.C. and starring Kevin Spacey, which is returning for a second 13-episode run. Prison comedy-dramas Orange is the New Black has also proved a critical hit.

The company has announced production deals with the Dreamworks studio and a partnership with Disney which will see it create four television series using Marvel characters including Daredevil.

Sources within Netflix indicated that decisions about what content to purge, or to refresh its offering as the company sees it, are based on detailed metrics and data about what people want to watch.

The California-based business is also moving into documentaries, which it argues mainstream channels would be reluctant to support. Netflix backed The Square, an inside account of the 2011 Egyptian uprising which won the Audience Award at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

A "streamageddon" deletion last May, saw 1,000 Netflix titles disappear overnight due to expiring license contracts with MGM, Warner Bros, and Universal.

Ironically, the titles deleted in the New Year's Day purge are available through Netflix's original DVD delivery by mail system, which the company's digital service has largely displaced.

Although television broadcasters often lose films when licences expire, the removal is more prominent on Netflix since subscribers are given "last chance to view" notices.

Demand for watching TV and films on services such as of Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Apple's iTunes fuelled a 40 per cent increase in UK spending on digital videos with downloads, streams and subscriptions rising to £621m in 2013, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.

Netflix - Purged in US on January 1 (source: Reddit)

The Rundown


Being John Malkovich

Back To School

Battle Of Britain

Born On the Fourth Of July


Body Of Evidence

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

Man On The Moon


1492 Conquest Of Paradise

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind


Do The Right Thing


Up In Smoke

Can't Hardly Wait


Biloxi Blues

Seed Of Chucky


As Good As It Gets

In The Name Of The Father

Inside Deep Throat (documentary)

I'm Gonna Get You Sucka

In Like Flint

Hard Target

Foxy Brown

Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell


Half Baked


50 First Dates

For The Love Of The Game

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

The Bad News Bears

The Russia House

The Secret Of NIMH

Revenge OF The Ninja

Roman Holiday

Rob Roy

Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

Remo Williams

Requiem For A Dream

Quigley Down Under



Once Upon A Time In Mexico

October Sky

Mystery Men

The Skulls



Romeo And Juliet (1968)

Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

The Woman In Red

Top Gun

Street Fighter

TNT Jackson


Seed Of Chucky

Scary Movie

Running Scared

Troll II

True Grit (1969)

War And Peace

Talk Radio

War Games

We Were Soldiers

What Dreams May Come


World Trade Center

The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes

The Odd Couple (1968)

The Mask Of Zorro

The Great Train Robbery

The Faculty

The Dream Team

Best Of Times

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot


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