Ever since it began, Netflix has been changing how we consume our home media. From offering DVD rentals via mail to eventually streaming thousands of hit movies and TV shows right into your living room, Netflix has always been on the cutting edge. The company upped the ante yet again when they began producing their own content, and already series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have seen great commercial and critical success.
Still, Netflix isn't a company content to simply sit on its laurels, and currently they have several projects in the works. Coming later this year is a new miniseries based on the life of adventurer Marco Polo, which will air exclusively on Netflix. Then there's their deal with Marvel for four series - including Daredevil - followed by a culminating mini-series. And after successfully resurrecting Arrested Development, Netflix still has plans for another season as well as a new series from creator Mitch Hurwitz.
Today, Netflix continues to change the game with the announcement (via Deadline) that they've teamed with The Weinstein Company to distribute Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend . A sequel to the 2000 Ang Lee film, Crouching Tiger 2 will release on Netflix and in IMAX theaters simultaneously, offering audiences a choice in whether to go out or stay in to enjoy this latest release.
And it's that choice that is going to cause the biggest stir. Films that release in theaters and through digital streaming outlets around the same time aren't unheard of, but it's an option usually reserved for small budget or relatively unknown films looking to reach a wider audience.
This film, however, is a sequel to a popular, critically adored, and Academy Award-winning film, not some unheard of indie flick trying to gain ground. Crouching Tiger 2 will be a highly-anticipated film, and that anticipation can be sated all the quicker when, on the day of release, people can just turn on their televisions and watch it. Sure, its release in IMAX will bring a fair share of moviegoers to theaters, but it's just as likely that most will enjoy the opportunity to watch a new release in the comfort of their home.
Which is exactly what Netflix is betting on, and what likely has some theater chains worried about their future. Already movie theaters must compete with television, video games, the Internet - all these other distractions vying for our attention, but they've always held the trump card of being the only place to see new movies (legally, anyhow). But with this new deal between Netflix and The Weinstein Company, that may no longer be the case.
Crouching Tiger 2 will star Michelle Yeoh - reprising her role from the first film - Donnie Yen, and Glee's Harry Shum, Jr.. It will be directed by Yuen Wo-Ping (True Legend) from a script by John Fusco (Hidalgo, The Forbidden Kingdom). It's expected that this sequel will continue the story of the Crane-Iron Pentalogy by Wang Du Lu, likely following the events of that series' fifth book: Iron Knight, Silver Vase.
That book, however, continues the adventures of Jen Yu - Ziyi Zhang's character in the first film. And while initially there were rumors Zhang would return for a sequel, she is now not expected to appear. Meaning her role could be excised, but it's also possible that the character will be recast.
What do you think of Crouching Tiger 2 releasing in IMAX theaters and on Netflix on the same day? Does this signal a change in the way studios will distribute their films? Should movie theaters be worried about streaming outlets stealing their customers? Let us hear from you in the comments below!
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend will release on Netflix and in IMAX theaters on August 28, 2015.