'Extinction' Gets Good Reviews on Netflix, But Wasn't Enough for Universal

The market for movies is changing.

As streamers watch Michael Peña’s new sci-fi horror alien invasion movie on Netflix this weekend — the one that’s getting rave reviews — it might be easy to forget that this is the same movie that Universal Pictures scrapped back in November 2017.

Extinction was just released on Netflix July 27, but long before that, it was originally scheduled to be released in theaters by Universal on January 26, 2018.

So why did a sci-fi movie like this that’s getting so much positive attention on Netflix get dropped from an official wide release calendar from a major film studio?

It’s tough to speculate, but it’s clear that the way movies get released, and the standards for what makes it as a streaming movie and what goes to wide release in theaters are changing. Inverse’s own reviewer Jake Kleinman called Extinction “Netflix’s first great sci-fi movie,” and that’s comparing the film to Duncan Jones’ Mute, which fell pretty flat for audiences.

Michael Peña stars in 'Extinction'.
Michael Peña stars in 'Extinction'.

The closest point of comparison for Extinction is probably The Cloverfield Paradox, which was originally slated for release by Paramount Pictures before it wound up migrating over to Netflix.

The massive streaming platform has a habit of scooping up genre films in jeopardy, and for those in charge of the films, there’s really no better deal on the table than going directly to streaming. It beats going directly to DVD and Blu-ray, right?

In a very real way, Extinction represents the ideal Netflix sci-fi horror movie. The hook and plot are more than enough to entertain one or more people looking for a low-key night in watching a compelling movie, but it probably isn’t quite enough to draw people out into the theaters. Extinction is perhaps the greatest example of a new middle point that’s emerging in terms of movie releases that’s been enabled by the advent of streaming.

Rest assured, Extinction is totally watchable. What was Universal thinking?

Media via Netflix