An innovative arrangement for distribution of the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” did not sit well with theater owners. Variety reports that three of the nation’s top four theater chains have indicated they will boycott the release.
As we reported earlier, the sequel, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend,” is set to have a simultaneous release on Netflix and in Imax theaters. The Weinstein Co., Imax and Netflix worked out arrangements for the groundbreaking distribution model.
“It’s a revolutionary move, but the three partners may have trouble securing screens in the United States for the sequel to the martial-arts epic,” Variety reports. “Three of the country’s four largest theater chains, Cinemark, Carmike and Regal, tell Variety that they are refusing to screen any so-called day-and-date releases in their Imax theaters. They are joined by Cineplex, Canada’s largest chain, and Cineworld, Europe’s second-largest network of theaters, which are also refusing to show the second ‘Crouching Tiger’ if it premieres on Netflix at the same time it hits multiplexes.”
Regal spokesman Russ Nunley said his company wants to ensure movies are seen “on a grand scale.”
Said Nunley: “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.”
Representatives for the other theater chains offered similar statements, with James Meredith of Cinemark putting it succinctly: “Cinemark does not play day-and-date movie releases on any of our screens including the Imax screens that we operate.”
The report notes that with the three big U.S. chains out of the picture, 115 of Imax’s 418 screens in the U.S. would be off-limits to the “Crouching Tiger” sequel.
Variety adds: “Theater owners have fiercely resisted efforts by studios and distributors to shorten the window between a film’s theatrical release and its debut on home-entertainment platforms from the standard 90 days, especially for titles from major studios and wide releases. In 2011, Universal was forced to cancel a plan to release ‘Tower Heist’ on cable VOD for $60 three weeks after hitting theaters after several exhibitors said they wouldn’t show the film.”