“Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity,” Nicolas Winding Refn recently told Deadline about films released on digital platforms. “We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel in terms of creativity, because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone —I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.”
While we definitely appreciate Refn’s enthusiasm with respect to the shifting paradigm of how we view movies, there will undoubtedly be no shortage of thinkpieces written following Netflix‘s announcement that the company will now be releasing original movies. That’s right, the streaming service that has already shaken up the traditional network television model is now going to bring their brand of immediate entertainment to feature films, releasing The Weinstein Company-produced sequel “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Dragon” simultaneously on their streaming service and in IMAX theaters.
The movie is directed by renowned martial arts choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, and has Michelle Yeoh reprising her role as Yu Shu-Lien, with Donnie Yen as Silent Wolf, and tells the story of one of lost love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption, set against breathtaking action in an epic martial arts battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the Martial World. Phew!
Netflix promises this will be the first of several movies to premiere day-and-date on their service and IMAX screens, and it’s a fascinating approach. Rather than the traditional method of releasing movies in brick and mortar theaters, Netflix seems to want to give audiences a genuine big cinema experience for their hard earned buck. Moreover, since there’s a limited number of IMAX screens anyway, the theatrical end won’t cut into their core business, and Netflix also seems to be getting ahead of the curve of where the industry seems to be going: blockbusters in multiplexes, everything else digitally.
However, there has already been some blowback. THR reports that Regal Cinemas, who operate 86 IMAX screens, is refusing to take part in the scheme. “At Regal Cinemas, presenting movies on a grand scale is our promise to movie fans as we work to continually enhance the moviegoing experience,” spokesman Russ Nunley said in a statement. “While a home video release may be simultaneously performing in certain IMAX locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3” wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.”
Thoughts? Do you think Netflix has the right idea? Can cinemas resist the tides of change? Let us know below. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Dragon” arrives on August 28, 2015.