Netflix continues to prove its strength as a serious contender in original programming, with shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards receiving great critical acclaim. It was announced a while back that the streaming service would also branch out into original movies, causing controversy when they announced that the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, The Green Legend would be released via streaming and in IMAX cinemas simultaneously.
Undeterred, the company has pushed forward with its plans, and have now released the upcoming schedule for its first lot of original movie releases.
First up is Beasts of No Nation, which will release on October 16, 2015. Starring Idris Elba, the film is written and directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, season one) and tells the story of a young child soldier drafted into civil war in his African country. Elba plays the warlord who serves as mentor to the young boy. Beasts of No Nation will stream on Netflix as well as receiving a limited theatrical run in select cinemas, therefore making it eligible for awards consideration.
Adam Sandler, in the first of four original movies he has committed to for the channel, will star in The Ridiculous Six which will be released on December 11, 2015. The film is understood to be a comedic take on The Magnificent Seven, and coincidentally (or not) arrives shortly before Tarantino’s Hateful Eight gets its cinematic release. Sandler stars alongside Nick Nolte, Rob Schneider, Terry Crews and Taylor Lautner. The film serves almost as a reunion of sorts, since it is written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore) and directed by Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, The Water Boy).
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, stars Michelle Yeoh from the original movie, along with Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr and Jason Scott Lee. It will have its Netflix release in the first quarter of 2016, along with a US IMAX release and a theatrical release in China. Yuen Woo-Ping, known for his work on Kill Bill: Vol 2 and Iron Monkey, is directing.
Finally, in March 2016, the long-awaited Pee-wee Herman movie will air. The result of a Paul Rubens and Judd Apatow collaboration, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday involves a “fateful meeting with a mysterious stranger” according to Netflix’s description, and is set to be an epically wonderful tale of friendship and adventure. Paul Rubens (Pee-wee Herman) and Paul Rust (Arrested Development) have penned the script, as directed by John Lee (Wonder Showzen, The Heart She Holler).
While some movie theatres might be boycotting films that have same-day streaming releases, it seems as though Netflix is determined to provide a wide variety of good-quality original movies - meaning that over time, they could well end up establishing themselves firmly as cinema’s fiercest rival. They have certainly chosen well for their first batch of original releases.
Adam Sandler has a strong and dedicated fanbase who will be eager to see him back on screen, while the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has been eagerly anticipated for quite some time. Cary Fukunaga's previous work on True Detective, a compelling storyline and Idris Elba in a starring role will all stand Beasts of No Nation in good stead - and of course, Pee-wee Herman is always immensely popular with adults and kids alike.
Beasts of No Nation arrives on Netflix on October 16th, 2015, followed by The Ridiculous Six on December 11th, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend in early 2016, and Pee-wee's Big Holiday in March 2016.