Yesterday, The Weinstein Company announced they would be releasing the martial arts sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend day-and-date on both IMAX screens and Netflix streaming on Aug. 28, 2015, and that bold decision has already cost them two of the nation’s leading theater chains, Regal and Cinemark.
Both chains told Variety that they were adamantly against the move, despite IMAX making them aware of it prior to the announcement.
Regal spokesman Russ Nunley said, “While a home video release may be simultaneously performing in certain IMAX locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3-inch wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.”
Cinemark spokesman James Meredith echoed Regal’s sentiments: “Cinemark does not play day-and-date movie releases on any of our screens including the IMAX screens that we operate.”
Although it has yet to make a statement, the AMC chain also has a history of refusing to show films as they premiere on-demand. How these events will effect the three companies’ plans to release the “Crouching Tiger” sequel is unclear at this point, although in 2011 Universal had to cancel plans to make Tower Heist available on VOD three weeks after release for a $60-dollar premium after several chains said they would not show the picture in their theaters.
“The Green Legend,” currently lensing in New Zealand, will be released almost 15-years after the original Ang Lee blockbuster translated traditional Wushu epics to an international audience, grossing $213-million worldwide. Even though over half of that gross came from the States, it was made clear in their press release what IMAX and the Weinsteins see as their target audience: “We are particularly hopeful it will play in our highly successful China market,” said Greg Foster, Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp. How the Netflix availability will play into theatrical gross and piracy in that region remains to be seen.
Directed by renowned martial arts choreographer and director Yuen Wo-Ping, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend stars Michelle Yeoh, reprising her role as Yu Shu-Lien, with Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr, Jason Scott Lee, Roger Yuan, Eugenia Yuan and newcomer Natasha Liu Bordizzo co-starring.