It seems that revolutionizing home video, video on demand, and television isn’t enough for Netflix, now the media giant has its sights set on feature film distribution as well with its plan for the martial arts drama sequel Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny. Netflix has already dabbled in film distribution buying documentaries like Mitt and A Short Game and exclusively releasing them on their service, but releasing Crouching Tiger II is a whole new game, and given the way that Netflix has torn down walls in the business models they’ve conquered so far, I’d say that Hollywood studios would have legitimate reasons to be concerned after next summer.
In a press release today, Netflix says that there will a two-pronged release for Crouching Tiger II when it comes out next summer. There will be a limited IMAX release of the movie, but it will also be released simultaneous on Netflix itself and be made instantly available to all Netflix subscribers. The industry’s been sliding this way for some time, same day release in theaters and on VOD, but with the massive brand appeal of Crouching Tiger, which with the original film was a box office smash and an Academy Award-winner, and the media-breaking power and appeal of Netflix, are we seeing the beginnings of a new release model for Hollywood movies?
“The moviegoing experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement,” says Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company, the production house behind Crouching Tiger and Netflix’s partner in this endeavor. “We are tremendously excited to be continuing our great relationship with Netflix and bringing to fans all over the world the latest chapter in this amazing and intriguing story.”
Undoubtedly, Weinstein and company were pleased after experimenting with a similar model this past summer with Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, which received limited release in theaters and was available to stream for rent on services like iTunes. But for the cost of renting Snowpiercer alone, you can get a month’s subscription to Netflix, which begs the question, how will this affect the box office of any movie released, in part, through Netflix. The company is very Scrooge-like with its statistics and revenue, which may be one of the few hurdles to more deals like this.
On the other hand, this is a natural evolution. Art house movies and other limited release films have been getting same-day VOD distribution deals for a couple of years now, and I know from my own experience its great being able to see those movies immediately and not have to wait months for them to make their way to my local art house cinema. But will the same be true for something like Crouching Tiger, which begs for a big screen experience so that it can be seen in all its glory? Tougher question. But if IMAX box office numbers hold up, in spite of availability on Netflix, then Hollywood could be at a critical tipping point in terms of a paradigm shift in distribution.
As for the movie itself, the attached pictures are just release stills from that same Netflix press release. Yuen Woo-ping brings a lot of experience with him as a stunt co-ordinator and a director of several acclaimed martial arts films, if anything, he’s even more ideally suited for a movie like this over Ang Lee, the director of the original Crouching Tiger. From the looks of things, it’s going to be hard not to splurge and see this in IMAX
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny will be in theaters, an on Netflix, August 28, 2015.
Source: Cinema Blend