News in a Number: The Cost of a New Netflix Film

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Jun 4, 2020
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The production cost of Cook Off, a Zimbabwean romantic comedy to be released on Netflix in June

That’s clearly less than the usual cost of a film or series released on Netflix. The Irishman, the award-winning Martin Scorsese film, cost in the hundreds of millions.

The story of Cook Off is all the more surprising because of its roots in a Zimbabwe marked by political and economic turmoil. Inflation in Zimbabwe famously reached over 500% last year. This came shortly after power changed hands in the country for the first time in 37 years. It’s no surprise then that Cook Off avoids political topics. 

Cook Off was received well at international film festivals which paved the way for a deal with Netflix. The film is a much-needed success story for Zimbabweans. More surprisingly, it could also be part of a success story for Netflix. 

According to Deutsche Welle, Netflix wants to have five million subscribers in Africa by 2025. Though challenges lie ahead, this could prove to be a smart move by Netflix. There are very few markets left in the world where quick growth is possible, especially with competition getting stiffer elsewhere. Netflix has been available in every African country since 2016. International competitors such as Amazon, Apple, and Disney are barely present, if at all.

Local competitors, such as the South African company Showmax, are a different story. Local content is a key competitive advantage. That’s why, for Netflix, finding hidden gems like Cook Off is probably a key part of their strategy. The streaming giant is also focusing on high-budget productions like the recent Queen Sono, a South African spy thriller.

Spoiler alert: Cook Off probably has a happy ending as all romantic comedies do. We don’t know how the story will turn out for Netflix in Africa, but the story is sure to get interesting as the streaming giants look for new growth markets.

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