Netflix aims for TV 'revolution' with remake of House of Cards

Feb 4, 2013

Movie streaming company says it will transform TV by putting high-quality original drama online

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards

THE ONLINE movie service Netflix is gambling on an acclaimed US remake of the hit BBC political thriller House of Cards to "change television forever".

Netflix has taken six years to become the world's largest movie subscription service, streaming the latest films to its 33 million subscribers. On Friday, it launched a bid to transform the television market by making the entire first series of House of Cards, an original drama series it has paid $100m to acquire, available to its customers worldwide.

Netflix users can watch a single episode or the entire first series on a computer or on a television via a PS3, Wii or Xbox 360. "Those who wish to gorge over the weekend can do so," wrote The Independent's Sarah Hughes. "Those who prefer famine to feast can parcel out episodes accordingly."

House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey and is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network), has impeccable credentials and its availability on Netflix puts the company in direct competition with cable channels such as HBO, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Netflix's chief executive Reed Hastings told the paper: "Our view is that over the next couple of years as internet TV really grows, people will look back and say this was the turning point."

The original House of Cards starred Ian Richardson as a Machiavellian Tory chief whip and was a hit for the BBC in 1990. Reviews of Fincher's re-make have been mostly adulatory, with the Daily Telegraph's Benjamin Secher calling it "the most remarkable new television drama of the year".

The Guardian's John Crace said the new series was "stylistically and amorally faithful to the original" and singled-out Spacey for praise because the actor had not "bothered" to recreate Richardson's performance.

Netflix said extensive "number-crunching" will shape its choice of original drama. The company financed House of Cards after its analysis of audience statistics showed many of its subscribers watched movies by Oscar-nominated Fincher as well as those starring Spacey.

British viewers seem likely to flock to the new version of House of Cards despite the fact the BBC series made an indelible impression. The Independent's Sarah Hughes gave Fincher's version four stars and called it a "coup" for Netflix.

"It [the series] is still a class act," she wrote, "with a lovely central performance from Spacey, whose Underwood is a more restrained creation than Ian Richardson's arch Francis Urquhart."

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