Netflix has once again extended its contract with Adam Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison Productions, for another four films for the streaming service. The company also announced that Sandler’s comedy Murder Mystery was its most popular movie in 2019, and the single most-watched piece of content on its service last year in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Singapore, and UAE.
Sandler first signed a deal with Netflix to produce and star in four films exclusively for the streaming service back in 2014, and re-upped that deal for another four films in 2017. Since then, the actor / comedian has starred in several films: The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler, The Week Of, and Murder Mystery, along with a stand-up special, 100% Fresh.
Additionally, Sandler recently starred in A24’s critically acclaimed drama Uncut Gems. While not part of Sandler’s broader deal, the film was also co-financed by Netflix, and premieres internationally on the streaming service today (it’ll hit Netflix in the US in May.)
“Whether you know him as Sandman, the Water Boy, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Nick Spitz or simply Adam, one thing is clear: our members can’t get enough of him,” says Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, in a statement announcing the extended deal. “They love his stories and his humor, as we saw with Murder Mystery. So I could not be more excited to extend our partnership with Adam and the Happy Madison team and deliver more laughs around the world.”
The reason Netflix is extending the deal is simple: Netflix viewers seem to really like Sandler’s sense of humor. According to Netflix, customers have spent over two billion hours watching Sandler’s films on Netflix since The Ridiculous 6 premiered in 2015, with over 83 million households watching Murder Mystery in its first four weeks (keep in mind that Netflix’s numbers of what constitutes a “view” are a little skewed.) By comparison, Netflix’s big-budget, Oscar-chasing drama The Irishman was expected to bring in less than half that number of viewers in its first month.
The news also comes as Netflix’s approach to original content is starting to shift — the era where the streamer was a reliable place for quirky or experimental projects like Bojack Horseman, The OA, or Tuca and Bertie is quickly ending, and the harsh realities of being a big-budget TV and movie studio are starting to set in. That means more long-term franchises (like The Witcher or Stranger Things) that can sustain years of growth and viewership, and big crowd pleasers like 6 Underground or Sandler’s particular brand of humor. New Netflix series have to be big hits, fast — and if there’s one thing Sandler’s good at, it’s apparently making exactly that.
Rather ominously, news of the four-film deal comes just after Sandler had threatened that should he not get nominated for an Academy Award for his (admittedly excellent) work in Uncut Gems, “I’m going to f***ing come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay. That’s how I get them.”