Annihilation is described as a sci-fi horror movie, based on the book of the same name, by Jeff vanderMeer. The movie is directed by Alex Garland, who also writes the screenplay. Garland is best known for his work on Ex-Machina, which saw him nominated for an Academy Award (Best Screenplay). Starring Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others, Annihilation is set to be released by Paramount in the U.S., Canada, and China, on February 23rd.
So far, so predictable. A movie starring some big names is released by a large studio; that’s the formula, right? Only this time, it’s all a little different. While it gets a cinematic release in the three territories previously mentioned, Annihilation is going straight to Netflix internationally, 17 days after its release in theaters. This is certainly a different release pattern than we’re used to. While Netflix has been branching out into original movies, and some have had a limited theatrical release along with the release on the streaming platform, this is new.
Paramount are the distributors of Annihilation in the U.S., Canada, and China, but Netflix takes over those duties for the rest of the world, which might, to some, suggest that Paramount doesn’t have faith in the movie. Actually, that’s the reasoning behind it. Annihilation is a mid-budget movie, focusing on Portman as a woman looking for her missing husband while leading an expedition into an unknown territory in a post-apocalyptic world. The movie didn’t test well, and it appears that David Ellison, executive producer, was concerned that the film would be too complicated. He wanted changes made, which apparently included tweaking the ending and making alterations to Portman’s character, but Garland refused. He was backed by Scott Rudin, producer, who also produced Ex-Machina. Since Rudin has final cut, he and Garland won the battle.
In turn, it seems that Paramount tried to appease both sides, and decided to try and find a streaming platform for release. Enter Netflix, who has also pitched in towards the production budget as part of the deal, said to be around the $55 million mark. That (hopefully) saves Ellison from losing any money, Paramount from losing face, and Rudin will get to see how the movie fares with a theatrical release on home soil, as well as some of the most popular territories.
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