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This weekend, Alex Garland’s new sci-fi horror, Annihilation, is released in US cinemas. 17 days later, it will debut straight to Netflix in the UK, following a deal between the streaming giant and Paramount. The movie, based on the best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny.
It follows Lena, a biologist and former soldier, who joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity.
With its 12th March release almost upon us, Netflix has now begun its promotional push for the film, unveiling a new poster and trailer. For the artwork, keep scrolling, or stay right here to watch the new video – and for more on what’s coming soon to Netflix UK in March 2018, click here.
Trailer and new stills land for Annihilation as positive buzz builds
11th February 2018
New stills and a trailer for Netflix’s Annihilation have landed this week, as positive buzz is beginning to build for Alex Garland’s sci-fi horror.
The movie, which is based on the first in Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling Southern Reach trilogy of novels, stars a cast that includes Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez. That, in itself, is enough to make anyone excited. Add Garland, fresh from Ex Machina, on scripting and directing duties and you have a genre flick with huge potential.
Excitement has been knocked down a few gears, though, after Paramount sold the movie’s international rights directly to Netflix – a sign of a nervous studio that some have taken to mean a poor quality film. Indeed, Paramount just did the same thing with The Cloverfield Paradox, a film that was dropped out of the blue online after the SuperBowl, in a bravura piece of event marketing by Netflix. That was met with a negative reaction by many, albeit unfairly so – you can read our balanced review of the movie here – while some quarters of the online film community took against Netflix for releasing the film, instead it being released in cinemas, branding the project with the outdated stigma of a straight to VOD release.
Where does this leave Annihilation? The film is still getting a theatrical release in the USA, with Netflix’s deal giving the streaming giant the rights to distribute it elsewhere. And while Paramount might not be throwing its financial support behind titles that it thinks won’t perform at the box office, Annihilation appears to be more a victim of politics than poor confidence.
The project is produced by two industry heavyweights: Scott Rudin (The Social Network) and David Ellison, head of Skydance Productions (Geostorm). However, they fell out over the movie, after a poor test screening, wth Ellison worrying that the ending was too complicated for filmgoers. Rudin, though, had final cut and refused to make any changes, apparently leading Ellison to sell the rights to Netflix in order to make sure his investment would still return him some money.
The result is a worldwide platform for the kind of mid-budget project that Hollywood is increasingly failing to back, giving immediate access to the mind of Alex Garland. And, judging by the new trailer that has landed in the last week, that mind is still full of imagination and impressive visuals:
The film follows an expedition into a mysterious zone called Area X. Lena (Portman), a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband (Isaac) inside the zone – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline, known as The Shimmer Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity. Is it destroying the world or creating something new?
The film will be released on Netflix 17 days after its US release. With that on course for US cinemas on Friday 23rd February, you can expect Annihilation to drop on Netflix UK on Monday 12th March.
And while we count down the days until we can stream it, positive buzz is building across the pond, with those who have seen an early screening praising the sci-fi as “absolutely phenomenal”. “Bold, challenging, singular, visually dazzling,” tweeted one. “Would not be the least bit surprised to see it hailed as a masterpiece (and it might actually be one).” “This much is clear: #Annihilation is NOT the movie you walk out and take to Twitter for a quick opinion,” said another. “It’s grabs you hard and leaves you frazzled. Hats off to Paramount for letting Garland be himself on a bigger budget.”
Here’s a host of impressive new stills (courtesy of Collider) to whet your appetite further:
Annihilation sold to Netflix for being “too intellectual”
8th December 2017
News broke this morning that Alex Garland’s new science fiction thriller was being partialy offloaded to Netflix by Paramount. The deal, which will see the movie released on Netflix just 17 days after its theatrical debut, will result in traditional cinema distribution in the US, Canada and China, but use the streaming service for international reach.
The agreement marks Netflix’s continuing push to position itself as an industry disruptor with clout, as well as an indicator of the potential future for some movies, as Netflix’s ability to pay up front helps to offset studio marketing and distribution costs. However, it also highlights another behind-the-scenes factor: a dispute over how “intellectual” the movie was.
The project is produced by two industry heavyweights: Scott Rudin (The Social Network) and David Ellison, head of Skydance Productions (Geostorm). However, they fell out over the movie, after a poor test screening. The Hollywood Reporter, which exclusively unearthed the off-screen snafu, reveals that Ellison feared the film was “too intellectual” and “too complicated” for a mainstream audience. He suggested changing the ending, as well as making Portman’s character more sympathetic.
With Skydance a major co-financier of Paramount’s slate, Ellison has a lot of influence – but in this case, Rudin has final cut on the project, and has been able to hold his ground, siding with Garland after exec-producing Ex Machina and refusing to make changes.
The result was a decision by Paramount to find a streaming distributor that could help save the situation and cover a large part of the circa $55 million budget. While that raises concerns about studios’ willingness to release films that could be deemed too intellectual or complicated on the big screen, it also highlights the important role that streaming platforms can play in Hollywood’s future, not only supporting the kind of mid-budget project that is increasingly difficult to get backed, but also providing platform and global reach for films that traditional producers are too afraid to back.
Netflix to stream Alex Garland’s Annihilation internationally after US cinema release
7th December 2017
Netflix is in talks with Paramount to stream Alex Garland’s new film, Annihilation, within days of its US cinema release.
A sci-fi thriller from the writer and director of Ex Machina, Annihilation already arrives with a hefty amount of expectation. Throw in a cast that includes Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez, and you have a genre title with awards and audience potential.
The movie is based on the first in Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling Southern Reach trilogy of novels. It follows a biologist (Portman), who, after her husband (Isaac) goes missing, volunteers for a secret mission into alien territory, where a shape-shifting Northern Lights-esque being awaits.
If all that sounds like a must-see for sci-fi fans, Annihilation just had its profile boosted by Netflix’s groundbreaking deal, which Deadline reports will see the film premiere worldwide just 17 days after its theatrical debut. Paramount will follow a traditional cinema release in the US, Canada and China, the world’s biggest theatrical markets. Indeed, conventional wisdom dictates that a relatively specialised movie such as Annihilation generates the majority of its theatrical revenue on home soil, rather than overseas – Ex Machina grossed $25.4 million in the US and $11.4 million overseas. With Netflix’s lump sum upfront and a reduced spend on P&A in a large number of countries, the deal marks an attractive way for Paramount to recoup its budget. It also marks Netflix’s continuing push to position itself as a major disruptive force in the industry, capable of rivalling traditional distribution, without replacing cinemas entirely.
It follows a similar deal recently made with New Line for its upcoming sequel to Shaft (with Samuel L. Jackson in the role of John Shaft), as Netflix looks to step up its global clout. The film is currently scheduled for a 23rd February release in US cinemas, with the Netflix debut therefore following at the start of March. Here’s a trailer for the film:
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