The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel will be released day-and-date on Netflix and in IMAX cinemas in 2015.
Netflix’s first fictional film, subtitled “The Green Legend”, is set to hit IMAX theatres on Friday 28th August next year, the same day it will be available for streaming on the video on-demand site. It is the first in a string of major deals for day-and-date SVOD premieres alongside “select” IMAX cinemas worldwide.
Netflix has increasingly placed emphasis on its original content, since the launch of House of Cards in 2013. Indeed, last year’s Emmy Awards nominated Netflix productions for 14 prizes, while the 2014 Emmy Awards gave it the nod in 31 categories.
While it is best known for its TV series, such as Orange Is the New Black and Hemlock Grove, the company has also been dipping its toe into film production: recent releases include The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Print the Legend, Mitt and The Short Game, while Egyptian documentary The Square won an Oscar nomination this year.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend is the first original, fictional Netflix feature and one of a rare set of titles to have been released day-and-date with cinemas. Earlier this month, Donnie Yen’s Iceman premiered on Netflix around the world on the same day as its theatrical release in America. Hot on the heels of that martial arts movie comes The Green Legend, but while Yen’s blockbuster received a limited cinema release, the Crouching Tiger sequel will be making its debut on IMAX screens: the biggest screen and the smallest screen simultaneously.
The move is the result of a distribution agreement with The Weinstein Co., with whom the streaming service already has a deal to produce original TV series Marco Polo (arriving in December this year).
“Fans will have unprecedented choice in how they enjoy an amazing and memorable film that combines intense action and incredible beauty,” Sarandos said in a statement.
“We are honoured to be working with Harvey Weinstein and a world-class team of creators to bring this epic story to people all over the world and to partner with IMAX, a brand that represents the highest quality of immersive entertainment, in the distribution of this film.”
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of TWC, added: “The moviegoing experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement. We are tremendously excited to be continuing our great relationship with Netflix and bringing to fans all over the world the latest chapter in this amazing and intriguing story.”
The sequel will see Michelle Yeoh reprise her role from the first film as Yu Shu-Lien, with Donnie Yen playing new character Silent Wolf. While Ang Lee has not been involved in the production, it will be directed by legendary choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, who became known to Western audiences through his work on The Matrix.
Netflix says the store is “one of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption, set against breathtaking action in an epic martial arts battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the Martial World”.
The fate of another world could be decided too when The Green Legend is released around the world on Netflix’s expanding international network, as the film industry pays attention to how people watch it. In China, for example, Netflix does not offer a service, which means that IMAX will expect a strong return from audiences. The two formats could not offer a bigger contrast, one promising spectacular scale, the other affordable convenience. If The Green Legend’s release is a success for all parties, the notion of video on-demand offering a threat to theatrical distribution could well be dealt a killer blow.