Judd Apatow Says Netflix Licensing HBO Shows Is a ‘Scary Thing’: ‘You’ll Get Fewer New Shows’ Because It’s ‘Cheaper’

Judd Apatow
Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Judd Apatow spoke to Vulture in a recent interview about the current state of television, including why the trend of rewatching older series and licensing pacts between streamers is “scary.”

“I’m of two minds,” Apatow said. “There’s a part of me that’s an audience member: I’ll go back and rewatch ‘Deadwood’ or ‘NYPD Blue’ or any of the David Milch shows. I understand why people like the comfort food of television. But it’s a scary thing as a creator of television, because of all the streamers going, ‘Wait a second. We don’t need to spend $200 million on a new show. We can just bring back “Barnaby Jones.”‘ They’re going to do it, then you’ll get fewer new shows.”

The “This Is 40” writer-director continued, “They realize, Oh wait, Netflix can just buy shows from HBO, and I would assume they’re cheaper than making new ones. Then at some point, Netflix will sell its shows to HBO, and it’ll just be passing around all the episodes of ‘Ballers’ for the rest of our lives.”

Last year, Warner Bros. Discovery licensed a handful of HBO original series to Netflix, including “Insecure,” “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific,” “Six Feet Under” and “Ballers.” Netflix then inked a deal with WBD to license all six seasons of “Sex and the City.”

Apatow also shared his thoughts on the future of the industry, saying “there are these corporate behemoths and people from the tech world taking over creativity.”

“And for some of them — not all of them — their intentions are just eyeball time online,” he continued. “I don’t know if they’re obsessed with quality filmmaking in the way other owners of these entities have been in the past. That’s why they started calling it ‘content.’ All of a sudden, they diminished it as much as it possibly could be. I don’t think it would be that weird if you read something in the paper that Pornhub bought Paramount+.”

But Apatow later stressed the importance of taking “big risks” in Hollywood, noting how Universal, specifically head of film Donna Langley, took a chance on Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning “Oppenheimer.”

“Like, who would think that anyone cared about ‘Oppenheimer’ like that? ‘Oppenheimer’ is going to make almost $1 billion,” Apatow said. “Like, is anyone talking about the inventor of the atom bomb in their lives? We don’t, but the people have to take big risks, and then you realize, No, people want to be challenged. They want smart movies. They want original cinematic experiences.”

From Variety US