Netflix and the Weinstein Company are looking at making history with a deal that will see the Weinstein’s upcoming Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny, a sequel to director Ang Lee’s 2000 Oscar-winning martial arts epic, become the first film to be available on the streaming site the same day that it appears in theaters.
According to Deadline, audiences can either see the film on an IMAX screen on its release date on August 28, 2015 or they can stay at home and watch it via Netflix’s streaming service. Previously, some small indie films have premiered on various On Demand services the same date or even proceeding a limited theatrical run. This marks the first time that a movie goes day and date with their theatrical release and availability on a subscription-based streaming service.
John Fusci’s script is an adaptation of Silver Vase, Iron Knight, the fifth novel in Chinese writer’s Wang Du Lu’s wuxia romance Crane-Iron Pentalogy. Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was based on the fourth novel in the series, though the film did appropriate some plot points from earlier the three earlier novels in the series. The film is being directed by the legendary Woo-ping Yuen, who amongst his numerous credits in wuxia films include serving as the action director for the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The cast includes Michell Yeoh, who will be reprising her Crouching Tiger role of Yu Shu-lien, Donnie Yen and Harry Shum Jr.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. On the plus side, if this becomes a popular model for distribution, it would make films more available to people who might not have easy access to theaters that would screen them. But this also takes away from the theatrical experience, and may discourage distributors from working hard to give a smaller film a bigger release.
But at least we know that this is one tie that Harvey Weinstein won’t be allowing an Asian martial arts film to sit on a shelf for two years before (barely) releasing it.