Every time a big Netflix executive leaves these days—and it’s happening a lot thanks to the Great Netflix Correction—everyone in Hollywood seems to place it in some Larger Narrative. That’s dangerous, but let’s dive into the plight of Tendo Nagenda, the Netflix VP of original film who was lured with much fanfare from Disney four years ago by co-C.E.O. Ted Sarandos. Nagenda announced this week that he’s exiting the company amid a restructure.
Why is Tendo out? With film chief Scott Stuber’s future plans the subject of industry chatter, and analysts openly questioning the hit rate and nine-figure spending on direct-to-streaming movies, some have suggested that Nagenda might be the fall guy for Netflix’s spotty output. There’s probably some of that, and he and Stuber are said to have been especially vocal about wanting marketing campaigns for individual titles and putting some in theaters exclusively, which Reed Hastings and Sarandos may have ultimately found frustrating. But the full story, based on my conversations with insiders, is more complicated. (Nagenda and Netflix declined to comment.)
Back in 2018, Sarandos’s pitch to Nagenda was the promise of building out a spare-no-expense team to focus only on making great studio-style movies, and running it with autonomy—the Netflix culture, as Hastings has articulated from the beginning. Sounds great, right? At the time, Nagenda and Stuber were the only senior people in the group, so they had a huge impact.