In Brief

Beasts of No Nation: Idris Elba film boycotted by cinemas

Will Netflix deal to show Beasts of No Nation on day of cinema release mean it's curtains for movie theatres?

In what may signal a major shift in the battle between traditional cinemas and online streaming services, America's biggest cinema chains are refusing to screen Oscar-tipped child soldier drama Beasts of No Nation. Written and directed by True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Nigerian writer Uzodinma Iweala and stars British actor Idris Elba as a warlord.

Variety reports that Netflix licensed Beasts of No Name this week for $12 million after a bidding war, but America's major cinema chains are now refusing to show the film, because the streaming service plans to make it available on the same date as the theatre release. The four largest US cinema chains, AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike, told Variety they will not show the film because Netflix is refusing to honour the standard 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Netflix doesn't seem to mind that most theatre owners refuse to show the film. The online streaming service has already planned a similar approach with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, The Green Legend. Cinemas have already rejected the film, which Netflix will show later this year, because they don't have exclusivity over its release.

In a statement, Netflix CFO David Wells said: “We'd like to have something that fits the popular taste” and blends “great documentary storytelling with high drama storytelling. You can call it an experiment.”

The move is risky because, as The Guardian points out, Netflix needs the film to be shown in some cinemas if it is to be considered for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars and requires films to be shown on the big screen in that calendar year. But Beasts of No Nation still looks likely to secure a release in independent and art house cinemas around America.

In a strategy that may change the way movies are released worldwide, Netflix has been expanding its first-run movie content. It has announced a first film deal with Adam Sandler for a western comedy titled The Ridiculous 6 and a new Pee-Wee Herman movie, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday.

On Screenrant Sarah Moran asks if strategies like this one are killing the movie theatre industry. She says that Netflix is changing the movie distribution landscape, but adds that movie theatres are also having to step up their game by offering enhanced viewing experiences like IMAX, in addition to in-house bars and kitchens.

We have more viewing choices than ever, but Moran believes there are still cinema audiences out there who value the visual effects and sound that a theatre setting can provide. Is it still worth going to the movies? she asks. “YES. Unequivocally, yes.”

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