U.S. video streaming site Netflix is to release its first movie — a sequel to the classic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — after striking a distribution deal with The Weinstein Company.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” will be released simultaneously on Netflix and selected IMAX theatres on August 28, 2015. The movie is expected to the first of several films to premiere on both the site and theaters.
Netflix’s foray into cinema could further boost its fan base and change the nature of the movie business, said Cyrus Daruwala, managing director at IDC Financial Insights.
“The moviegoing experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement,” said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company (TWC), the production house behind the film.
Netflix already has a deal with The Weinstein Company that from 2016 gives it exclusive distribution rights for the studio’s TWC’s first-run movies.
“Fans will have unprecedented choice in how they enjoy an amazing and memorable film that combines intense action and incredible beauty,” added Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a press release.
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The film will be directed by Yuen Wo-Ping, known for his work on “The Matrix Trilogy” and “Kill Bill,” and will see stars Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen reprise their respective roles as Yu Shu-Lien and Silent Wolf.
IMAX is the only theater chain involved in the deal, and will help extend the company’s summer blockbuster season.
Greg Foster, IMAX chief executive, said he was particularly hopeful the the film would do well in China, a country that Netflix does not operate in.
“In territories where we simultaneously release with Netflix, we are excited to offer consumers the option of deciding how, when and where they want to view the film, and exhibitors the opportunity to participate in this alternative form of content in a new and innovative way,” he said.
China remains a highly competitive market for online streaming websites. In August, Youku Tudou, known as China’s version of Youtube, joined Netflix in launching its own production company.
On Monday, Netflix shares closed up 0.2 percent.