As Netflix moves towards 50% original content, the company has begun approaching unlikely people for new projects. One such unexpected content producer is Chris Rock, a comedian who hasn't toured in almost a decade and hasn't been comically relevant in even longer.
According to reports, Netflix has written a very large check to Chris Rock to produce 2 exclusive stand-up specials for the platform. These two specials are reportedly valued at $40 million, a number that will set a new record for stand-up specials for a couple of reasons. First, it is the most ever offered a comedian for a special of this kind. This fee is higher than Jerry Seinfeld or Louis C.K., some of the higher paid comedians in the industry.
Second, Chris Rock has been off the road for a long time. This contract for two specials, not just one, is a show of confidence in the comedian's abilities. Normally in a situation like this, a single special would be warranted, using it as a test of whether or not he can command an audience like he could a decade ago. Theoretically, this confidence comes from his performance as host of the Oscars, where he did very well.
The Oscars are not exactly a good measuring tape, though. Not all, and sometimes none, of the jokes are written by the host. Also, the audience is not there for a comedy show; they're there for an awards show. Any comedic reactions could be indicative of nerves over their nominations rather than a host's comedy styling and timing.
None of this is to say that Chris Rock is incapable of commanding a room. It's just to say that this is a lot of money on a hope that he is as funny as he once was.