The sad story of Quibi (and what became of their "quick bite" films)

The Stranger. Image Courtesy Quibi
The Stranger. Image Courtesy Quibi /

In April of 2020, a new streaming platform called Quibi was launched. The premise was different from other streamers in several ways, and its targeted demographic was young consumers.

“Quibi” was short for “Quick Bites,” and pronounced “KWIB-ee.” Why quick bites? Because movies picked up by or produced for Quibi were broken up into short pieces of about ten minutes each, and presented as individual episodes.

Quibi films were also specifically formatted to be watched on a cell phone, and the thought process behind all of it was that on-the-go people were more likely to watch video content in short sequences of time. This appealed to me specifically because I often watch films on my phone during work breaks.

Quibi had been funded by multiple film studios, tech companies, banks and entertainment companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Lionsgate, 21st Century Fox and Sony Picutures, so the stakes were high. The content was definitely high quality, and as a subscriber, I really enjoyed the films I watched on Quibi.

When The Streetlights Go On. Courtesy of Quibi /

Unfortunately, Quibi shut down only six months after its launch. There were a number of suspected reasons for its failure. COVID-19 ensured that people had plenty of time on their hands, so the prospect of watching short chapters and having to wait a few days or even a week for the next one was not as appealing.

New subscribers were given a free 90-day trial, and a large percent of those subscribers never continued their subscriptions past that 90-day point.

I personally believe that many people misunderstood how the content was presented. Instead of understanding that full-length films were broken up into ten-minute parts, many believed that Quibi consisted of only short films.

As a start-up company, one of the issues may also have been that there were so many other huge streaming platforms (think Netflix and Hulu). The competition was brutal, and founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman were loathe to ask for even more money from their investors.

Quibi’s horror anthology series 50 States of Fright explores stories based on urban legends from each state. Christina Ricci stars as Bitsy the hotel caretaker. In this tale a group of influencers descend on Colorado’s most haunted hotel where they find themselves the victims of a bunch of spirits who just want to be left alone in Quibi’s horror anthology series: 50 States of Fright - Colorado: Red Rum. Photo: Courtesy of Quibi /

It’s a shame that Quibi didn’t have a longer period of time to establish itself, because their films were great (at least the ones that I watched). They featured well known actors, writers and directors, so they weren’t low budget. Many of these films moved over to the Roku Channel, but were dropped when Roku went through downsizing.

Here is a list of my personal Quibi favorites. Many cannot be found currently, but I recommend keeping your eyes open in case they pop back up again one day.

The Stranger – Maika Monroe (It Follows) starred in this full-on horror film, with Dane DeHaan (A Cure for Wellness) appearing as the menacing title character. Claire (Monroe) is a rideshare driver who picks up her newest client (DeHaan), thinking this will be just another ride. However, this particular rider turns out to be a touch psycho, and ends up stalking her through LA. The Stranger is tense and scary, and both of the leads give great performances. *The Stranger will be debuting on Hulu April 15.

Survive – Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) and Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead) appear as Jane and Paul, the only two surviving passengers on a plane that crashes on a snowy mountain. Jane is battling depression and is suicidal, which makes their fight to survive even more compelling. Again, the performances are stellar, and the storyline is top notch. *Survive is currently available on STARZ.

50 States of Fright – Executive produced by Sam Raimi, this was a horror anthology series, with each story based in a different state. The writers included Sam and Ivan Raimi and Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), and segments were directed by the likes of Sam Raimi and Alejandro Brugues (Satanic Hispanics). It is not currently streaming.

When the Street Lights Go On – This dark, moody film is listed as a drama, but because of its true crime feel, I would categorize us as horror/thriller. Set in a suburban neighborhood, When the Streetlights Go On looks at the aftermath of murder in a small town. Teenager Chrissy Monroe’s shocking murder rocks her hometown, especially her sister Becky (Sophie Thatcher, Yellowjackets). Since the killer is still unknown, paranoia and distrust take over. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it streaming anywhere.

Here's hoping Quibi’s content finds a home somewhere soon, because the streamer’s films are absolutely worth watching.

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