Netflix’s ‘Cuties’ prompts ‘churn’ as domestic subscribers flee

Netflix investors may be tuning out after the controversial french film ‘Cuties’ has ignited a #CancelNetflix campaign on social media.

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Shares fell on Monday, despite a broad market rally, following a report that the streaming service may be losing subscribers.

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YipitData, a global research firm, told FOX Business that Netflix’s churn, or the amount of customers who choose not to renew their subscription, began to substantially increase following the film’s release.

As of Saturday, the firm found that Netflix’s daily churn reached a multi-year high that was nearly eight times higher than levels observed by the firm in August.

YipitData believes churn could continue to grow in the coming days, as an online petition against the film has gained over 614,000 signatures as of Monday evening.

The streaming giant, known for its popular titles such as “The Crown” and “House of Cards”, has seen a subscriber boom during the pandemic, adding 10.1 million paid memberships in the second quarter, up from 2.7 million in the same period a year ago.

Netflix declined to comment on YipitData’s report.

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In a recent interview with CNN, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was not asked about the film’s controversy and last week the company issued an apology for the artwork associated with the film.

“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” a Netflix spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”

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Since, the #CancelNetflix movement has also gained momentum in Congress, with Sen. Josh Hawley calling for the film’s removal from the platform for appearing to “sexually exploit children and endanger child welfare.”

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Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan, a Republican, blasted the film in a Monday press release after introducing legislation in Congress to “ban the sale of lifelike child sex dolls used by pedophiles.”

Buchanan argues that we need to “stop catering to predators and start paying more attention to protecting children.”

“A film that shows girls as young as 11 engaging in highly sexualized dance routines is inappropriate,” Buchanan added. “I support artistic expression in film but this is exploitative, dangerous and borders on child pornography.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz is calling for a criminal investigation into Netflix, urging the Justice Department to investigate whether executives and filmmakers violated federal laws against the production & distribution of child pornography.

The film focuses on an 11-year old named Amy who “starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew,” according to Netflix’s synopsis.

This image released by Netflix shows the cast of the coming-of-age film “Cuties,” streaming Wednesday, Sept. 9. (Netflix via AP)

The coming of age film is directed by 35-year-old Maïmouna Doucouré, who won the Jury Award for Directing at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

While participating in a panel at the Toronto Film Festival on French filmmakers Monday, Doucoure defended the indie film, arguing it was a social commentary on how young girls are treated, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s because I saw so many things and so many issues around me lived by young girls, that I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children,” Doucoure explained.

She added that the film is “bold”, “feminist” and “so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions.”

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“Cuties” is currently No. 7 on Netflix’s list of the top 10 programs in the U.S. today. Netflix shares have gained 47% this year.

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