Binge viewers of movie classics and television obscurities suffered a New Year hangover after a host of titles including Platoon and Being John Malkovich disappeared overnight from the web streaming service Netflix.
Millions of subscribers woke up on January 1 to find that the service had purged some 85 titles ranging from True Grit and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the Mr Bean television series.
US Netflix users were those greatest hit by the deletion but British subscribers also lost acclaimed films including Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream.
Scroll down to see the list of deleted films in full
Netflix, which allows users to watch films and television series on tablets, TV, PCs and gaming consoles, uses viewing data to decide which titles it makes financial sense to keep.
The majority of the expiring titles were what the company considers to be low-watched movies from independent studios.
Whilst the “kill list”, according to the Reddit website, included the lesser-seen Killer Klowns From Outer Space, 1984 dance film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and cult TV comedy series The Kids In The Hall, US customers also lost Spike Lee’s acclaimed 1989 film Do The Right Thingand Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Platoon.
Some of the removals are due to the expiration of licensing deals with Hollywood studios, which are demanding a higher price for Netflix to continue offering premium films and television series to its 40 million subscribers. Netflix claimed that a similar number of “blockbuster” movie titles will be added in January to compensate for those which have disappeared this week.
The company spends around $2.7 billion a year on content with the rate-per-episode for popular series like Mad Men rising to $750,000.
Subscribers watch a billion hour of film and TV each month, with the largest percentage of viewing hours devoted to “binge viewing” of complete drama series, such as Breaking Bad, which UK fans could only watch to its conclusion through Netflix.
A Netflix spokesman said: “We have a continuous ebb and flow of titles on Netflix and that this isn't anything new. We always add titles as we secure rights and remove titles as our license expires. We are always looking to provide a great mix of things to watch that our members will love.”
Netflix is focusing resources on producing its own original shows, such asHouse of Cards, a remake of the UK political thriller series, relocated to Washington D.C. and starring Kevin Spacey, which is returning for a second 13-episode run. Prison comedy-dramas Orange is the New Blackhas also proved a critical hit.
The company has announced production deals with the Dreamworks studio and a partnership with Disney which will see it create four television series using Marvel characters including Daredevil.
Sources within Netflix indicated that decisions about what content to purge, or to refresh its offering as the company sees it, are based on detailed metrics and data about what people want to watch.
The California-based business is also moving into documentaries, which it argues mainstream channels would be reluctant to support. Netflix backed The Square, an inside account of the 2011 Egyptian uprising which won the Audience Award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
A “streamageddon” deletion last May, saw 1,000 Netflix titles disappear overnight due to expiring license contracts with MGM, Warner Bros, and Universal.
Ironically, the titles deleted in the New Year’s Day purge are available through Netflix’s original DVD delivery by mail system, which the company’s digital service has largely displaced.
Although television broadcasters often lose films when licences expire, the removal is more prominent on Netflix since subscribers are given “last chance to view” notices.
Demand for watching TV and films on services such as of Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Apple's iTunes fuelled a 40% increase in UK spending on digital videos with downloads, streams and subscriptions rising to £621m in 2013, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.
Netflix – Purged in US on January 1 (source: Reddit)
Being John Malkovich
Back To School
Battle Of Britain
Born On the Fourth Of July
Body Of Evidence
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
Man On The Moon
1492 Conquest Of Paradise
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Do The Right Thing
Up In Smoke
Can't Hardly Wait
Seed Of Chucky
As Good As It Gets
In The Name Of The Father
Inside Deep Throat (documentary)
I'm Gonna Get You Sucka
In Like Flint
Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell
50 First Dates
For The Love Of The Game
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas
The Bad News Bears
The Russia House
The Secret Of NIMH
Revenge OF The Ninja
Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
Requiem For A Dream
Quigley Down Under
Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Romeo And Juliet (1968)
Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood
Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight
The Woman In Red
Seed Of Chucky
True Grit (1969)
War And Peace
We Were Soldiers
What Dreams May Come
World Trade Center
The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes
The Odd Couple (1968)
The Mask Of Zorro
The Great Train Robbery
The Dream Team
Best Of Times
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot