by Chris Swan

B-rated movies are productions that are characterised by low-budget and are produced by less popular studios.

Some might add that it’s also about the genre of these B-movies that separate them from A-movies, which is why they end up on streaming services rather than cinema screens.

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are on-demand online entertainment services where you subscribe to watch movies and TV shows. Studies show that around 58% of UK residents have subscribed to at least one streaming service, which has been popping up since 2020.

Why B-Movies?

The low profile of B-movies allows producers to work out their imagination – to some extent – far from Hollywood restrictions and fame limits. B-movies are usually wild, fantasy-based, and are most likely to be field experiments.

Another reason we have B-movies is that not every movie will be an A-class production, which maintains the filmmaking economy by creating jobs for B-class producers, actors, writers, and other crew members.

B-movies don’t necessarily mean terrible production work and awful plots; many deem these films as the first step on the film business ladder. Ultimately, everyone has to start from somewhere, and these movies are the perfect environment for actors, producers, and writers to start their careers.

In fact, many B-class movies made it to the top charts from a relatively low budget, just like the movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), one of the greatest gambling movies of all time that was made with a budget of less than £1 million.

B-movies on streaming services

In an attempt to capture as much market share as possible, streaming services strive to become as diverse as possible to include viewers with different tastes and expectations. Therefore, they have room for Hollywood production-like movies besides second-tier films.

It can be relatively difficult for B-class movies to find their way to the cinema screens. Therefore, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are the channels to feature these movies.

Additionally, films with limited budgets are more likely to accept lower-value contracts offered by online streaming platforms rather than high-value contracts by the box office – if not impossible. Streaming services tend to take a lower cut from proceeding revenue than movie theatres.

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From-home tendency

For the last couple of years, we got used to hearing the phrase “from home” more frequently with more people working from home and studying from home, and that’s why people tend to watch movies from home rather than going to the cinema.

Hence, streaming services are exposed to a larger audience and need to account for a wide range of preferences, pushing these platforms to add more shows and movies to their collections, including some less-popular B-rated movies.

This tendency pushes viewers to remain glued to their screens and watch more movies from different classes and categories. Today, 23% of the US adult population use Netflix daily, meaning 77 million users. If only 1% of them use streaming to watch B-rated movies, that means around 770,000 B-rated movies daily.

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Original content

With more technological advancements introduced in the filmmaking industry, the bar is also rising for B-movie producers, who now have easier access to top-notch shooting equipment. Accessing sophisticated tools for production, filming, and editing is no longer limited to A-movies, especially with plenty of available alternatives.

Eventually, streaming platforms started working on their own production, delivering original content. While most are considered newbies in filmmaking, it’s fair to regard their production as B-rated work.

Netflix started working on its original content in 2012, and it’s considered the first online streaming service to do so. For that, Netflix and other online streaming platforms employ less popular actors and production crews behind the scenes, resulting in B-class movies.

With a relatively smaller budget than cinema production companies, some lower-class movies and TV shows climbed the charts, such as The House of Cards, the first TV series produced by a streaming service studio, which won 27 awards throughout its six seasons.

This fact pushed other on-demand video platforms like Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Hulu to start their original content and produce their own B-movies and television shows, taking similar steps to those of Netflix.

Wrapping up

B-movies are an integral part of the filmmaking industry. Some see them as the stepping stone for famous Hollywood actors and producers, while others see them as a land for unbounded fantasy.

However, these movies are more likely to find themselves on online streaming platforms than cinemas due to their budget. Hence, Producers are more intrigued to expand their production to involve as many viewers as possible, intensifying competition between on-demand movie streaming services.

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