NEW YORK, N.Y. – Netflix is making a push into documentaries, with the subscription service announcing deals on Thursday to premiere four new films in the next few months.
Netflix has always made non-fiction films available to subscribers, but until recently they have been projects initially made for theatrical release or on television networks. Netflix said it now wants filmmakers to make their work specifically for the service, or use Netflix to offer the first wide distribution.
The first of the four new films to be released will be “Battered Bastards of Baseball,” about a defunct minor league baseball team. It will premiere on Netflix on July 11.
“Mission Blue,” a documentary about marine biologist Sylvia Earle and her campaign to create a network of protected marine sanctuaries, is set for Aug. 15. Later this year the service will premiere “E-Team,” a film about human rights workers from the makers of the Oscar-winning documentary “Born Into Brothels,” and “Print the Legend,” about 3-D printing.
Lisa Nishimura, head of Netflix’s documentary unit, said the service is intentionally trying to present films on a wide variety of topics. Its selling point to filmmakers is that Netflix will make the documentaries available on the service for a lengthy period of time. TV networks and theatrical releases can offer a bigger burst of attention, but the films are generally only available for a short period.