Netflix’s First Original Movie Might Be What We Needed All Along

Posted October 1, 2014 by Kierra Prince in Movies

Netflix recently announced that they will be airing a sequel to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie will star Michelle Yeoh, reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien, and Donnie Yen, known for his titular role in Ip Man. As part of a partnership with the Weinstein Co., the sequel will only be available through Netflix and in select IMAX theaters.

Netflix has stated that this is only the first film slated for a release like this and its expected to shake up the movie industry. For decades we’ve followed the model of a movie releasing in theaters and months later having the means to watch it at home whether through a physical form (such as a DVD or VHS) or through streaming and On Demand services. Services have even competed for business by claiming to get movies at home first. How many times have you seen the words “Available a month before Netflix and Redbox!”?

So why is this such a big deal?

Besides tremendously shaking up the way they do things, Hollywood may have to begin to take a look at their overall industry and what’s driving ticket sales. Ticket prices continue to rise as the years go by and with that we’ve seen a rise in the prices of food at movie theaters. This has tremendously been a problem for families as movies have begun to become a lot less of a cheap way to entertain kids for a few hours and more of a pricey night out. A family of 4 looking to see the latest kids’ film in 3D is looking at spending as much $50 just on tickets alone. A ton of families, and people in general, are going to see the option of staying home to see the latest film as a cost-effective solution. A family can buy some popcorn and a whole case of soda for way less than the price of admission and not have to worry about fighting the weekend crowds. It’s a genius idea that families looking to save money will be more than happy to oblige in.

"That'll be $15 please"

“That’ll be $15 please”

This is also going to be a tremendous thing for independent films and films that are considered to have a niche audience. Take the Oscars for example. How many of you have sat there as the nominees rolled out, amazed at the lack of films you’ve seen or even heard of? A ton of movies hit theaters every year in special markets only that have largely been consigned to arthouse theaters or big cities. Or arthouse theaters in big cities. As an avid fan of foreign films I find myself having to wait until a film gets a DVD release to see it simply because I couldn’t make it to a theater during the limited showtimes. Even nationally acclaimed films can be incredibly hard to see in theaters. Imagine my surprise when both Fruitvale Station and 12 Years a Slave required 45 minute drives to see in theaters. If films like this suddenly got the option to be streamed into the homes of everyone with a Netflix subscription they could hit the mass markets that they’ve struggled to find and companies could find themselves willing to pay Netflix the money for more viewership rather than take the gamble on airing a film that may not have a viewer base in select cities.

Because here’s the thing, theaters will never completely die out. We go to theaters because we like the social aspect. I enjoy the energy of a Marvel midnight. A ton of us eagerly awaited Harry Potter premiers. Many of us see comedies to enjoy the collective laughter and a horror film isn’t quite as scary when everyone is jumping at the same time. A movie like this Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel will certainly get its share of theater-goers, especially with it being an IMAX film. The first film is well-known for being gorgeously filmed and excellently choreographed and that’s a match made in heaven for IMAX theaters. There are still going to be people who will want to see the movie in theaters instead of at home. Blockbusters and action films will probably be preferred to be seen in theaters but we now have the choice and there’s certain to be viewers who may actually view the movie at home first before determining if its worth the cost of an IMAX ticket. I myself saw The Dark Knight twice because a group of friends who hadn’t seen the film yet suggested seeing it in IMAX and I had enjoyed the movie so much I didn’t think much of spending the money to see the movie for a second time in an IMAX setting.

And Hollywood may have to rethink their business model. Hollywood seems unable to want to take chances with certain films out of fear of losing money and we tend to get the same tired material over and over again. This is mostly apparent within certain genres and I’ll give the great example of the horror industry. I’m an avid fan of horror films but I’ve found that very few films getting mainstream releases interest me. The genre is almost entirely full of remakes, sequels, and uninspired slashers when it comes to theatrical releases. And that’s not to say that there isn’t potential. For years horror fans have been dying to see Guillermo Del Toro’s vision of Lovecraft in the form of his adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness and those dreams were almost shattered due to the fact that studios were uninterested in funding a movie that Del Toro was adamant about getting a R rating because an R rating tends to not be as profitable as a PG-13 rating to studios when it comes to horror. Del Toro and Legendary Pictures have supposedly worked something out but had that deal fallen through, Netflix would almost certainly be the best platform for a project like this. Especially when you consider that popularity that independent horror titles like V/H/S have gotten after being added to Netflix. We may begin to see films with more freedom entering the mainstream in the form Netflix produced pictures and that’s very much a good thing. Orange is the New Black wasn’t expected to be a hit with a cast consisting of mostly women and featuring a large amount of minority characters when it comes to race, sexuality, and gender. With Netflix leading the way, I would love to see a film industry that isn’t afraid to cast more nontraditional and diverse actors and actresses simply because they have a new platform to work on.


Orange is the New Black has been a massive success for Netflix

As of now, there’s no mention of how the Weinstein Co intends to make money off of the film or what the deal entails. For example, China has not yet received Netflix and IMAX is expecting a larger than average turnout for this movie in this market. And, generally speaking, IMAX ticket sales are a few dollars more (something like $15 where I live, compared to the standard $11 for non-IMAX films) so that certainly won’t hurt the profits in theaters.  Orange is the New Black and House of Cards have been super profitable for Netflix and have earned a ton of awards and nominations and I think we will see the same from Netflix’s own films.

About the Author

Kierra Prince

Was born with a controller in her hand. Fan of all things nerdy and has a tremendous amount of love for RPG's, anime, and anything horror. She secretly wishes to be a mash-up of Catwoman and Sailor Moon.