Netflix will release Beasts of No Nation, a new film from Idris Elba and Cary Fukunaga, later this year.
The powerful drama, shot by the director of True Detective, is based on the novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala. It follows the tale of Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah will play the young boy, while Luther and The Wire star Idris Elba will play Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.
Produced by Red Crown Productions, and co-financed with Participant Media, Beasts of No Nation will debut in select cinemas in the US on the same day as it is released worldwide on Netflix.
The deal marks a milestone in the VOD service’s push to disrupt the traditional theatrical release model: previously, the site has bought the rights to documentaries, such as The Square and Virunga, which have earned Netflix two Oscar nominations. Last year, Netflix announced that it would premiere a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in August 2015. That, however, is being released day-and-date with IMAX cinemas, who are less picky about release dates than typical cinema chains, who, in the US at least, are famously not enamoured with the idea of movies hitting digital platforms within the traditional theatrical window.
Netflix has not confirmed which “select theatres” will be screening the film when it releases later this year. With both the clout of True Detective, The Wire and Luther behind it, though, the VOD service is gunning for an Oscar more explicitly than ever.
“Beasts of No Nation is a powerful film that unfolds beautifully in the hands of director Cary Fukunaga with Idris Elba delivering a career-defining performance,” says Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. “We are so proud to bring a film of this caliber exclusively to Netflix members around the world at the same time as it appears in select theatres.”
For the producers, meanwhile, Netflix offers worldwide distribution on a scale that would not be possible via the traditional art house circuit.
“To know that this harrowing and beautiful movie is going to reach the more than 50 million people within Netflix’s reach is beyond our wildest dreams,” says Daniela Taplin Lundberg, co-founder, Red Crown Productions. “The Netflix team is bold and has the same pioneering spirit about distribution that I like to think we had about making the film in the jungles of Ghana. We could not be happier about this partnership.”