Netflix has announced the release dates of its original film initiative, which includes the Idris Elba drama "Beasts of No Nation," which is written and directed by Cary Fukunaga.
The film will debut Friday, October 16, 2015 worldwide on Netflix, in all territories where the service is available, and on the same day in select USA theaters, in a partnership with distribution company Bleecker Street.
"Beasts of No Nation" is based on the highly acclaimed novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, bringing to life the gripping tale of Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an unnamed African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah stars as Agu, while Elba plays the role of Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.
"Beasts of No Nation is a powerful film that unfolds beautifully in the hands of director Cary Fukunaga with Idris Elba delivering a career-defining performance," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, "We are so proud to bring a film of this caliber exclusively to Netflix members around the world at the same time as it appears in select theaters."
“Making this film has been one of the most profound professional experiences of our careers. Everyone, from Cary to our production assistants, sacrificed so much to make this film authentically in West Africa, where Uzo’s story was set,” said Daniela Taplin Lundberg, co-founder, Red Crown Productions. “To know that this harrowing and beautiful movie is going to reach the more than 50 million people within Netflix’s reach is beyond our wildest dreams. The Netflix team is bold and has the same pioneering spirit about distribution that I like to think we had about making the film in the jungles of Ghana. We could not be happier about this partnership.”
As you might recall, following last year’s declaration that they will boycott Netflix’s first feature film – a sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which the streaming company plans to release both on its website and in theaters simultaneously – major theater chains, AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike, maybe not surprisingly, announced earlier this year that they will also boycott the theatrical release of “Beasts of No Nation,” which Netflix acquired for $12 million, outbidding every studio that was interested in the film.
In a statement, a rep for Regal said: "… at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to [three inches] wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear."
But not all are anti-Netflix’s disruption of staid industry practices. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond has defended the company’s decision to partner with Netflix on a simultaneous video-on-demand and movie release of the "Crouching Tiger" sequel, saying, last year, that he believes the IMAX release will still be successful because of audiences in China, where Netflix is currently unavailable (although the company continues to try to push into that country of billions), and where IMAX theaters are not operated by the American chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark. Gelfond also emphasized that Netflix, with its new movie model, may be on to something.
"Theaters are our partners, and by bringing additional content to the market, I think it helps the market and I think it’s helping them. I understand change isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, it’s easier to stick with the status quo, but on the other hand, if you don’t try to change you get stuck in a certain place," Gelfond told The Wrap last year. "We made our reputation by innovating."
The same goes for "Beasts of No Nation," as the Alamo Drafthouse indie chain of theaters with 19 nationwide, although gradually expanding, said it will buck the trend and run the film.
Said Tim League, the company’s CEO and founder, "I’m agnostic about this sort of thing […] I look at films I want to play and I play them regardless of the release strategy […] I don’t look at myself as a competitor to Netflix. I think that argument is a little bit of a red herring. I watch a lot of movies at home, but there comes a time where I want to get out of the house. I look at cinemas as one of those options that compete with restaurants or baseball games or all of those things I can’t do in my living room."
I think he speaks for millions of Americans, including yours truly.
Adding to the conversation, Amy Kaufman, producer of "Beasts of No Nation" said: "It could be a game changer… This has the potential to change the way people perceive how movies and art are delivered to them."
Well, yes, it does. In fact, it already has!
"Beasts of No Nation" is a film that’s on my 2016 Oscar predictions list, which you can read here.
Other titles that are on Netflix’s film slate that are now set up with release dates include:
– "The Ridiculous Six" – the first of four Adam Sandler films available only on Netflix, which stars Sandler, Terry Crews, Jorge Garcia, Taylor Lautner, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson and Nick Nolte. The film will premiere exclusively for Netflix members on Friday, December 11, 2015.
– "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend" will be released theatrically in China and on IMAX and on Netflix globally in early 2016.
– And "Pee-wee’s Big Holiday," starring Pee-wee Herman, will premiere on Netflix in March 2016.