There’s nothing new about Hollywood wanting to capitalize on the success of a popular movie and turn it into a franchise. Wait long enough, and we’ll be seeing trailers for “Pirates of the Caribbean 27” with Johnny Depp’s hologram playing Captain Jack Sparrow.
But there is something special about the announcement that there will be a sequel to the 2000 martial arts epic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
When “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” opens Aug. 28, 2015, you’ll have the option of watching it on Netflix or seeing it at an IMAX theater. That’s because Netflix has contracted with the Weinstein Company to release “Green Legend,” its first major feature film.
You could argue this sort of model makes sense for this sequel. The original was filled with amazing, high-wire sword fighting that would be right at home in a modern-day IMAX theater — one imagines “Green Legend” will offer much of the same. Effects-heavy films such as “Avatar” in which the storyline takes a backseat to the visuals demand viewing in 3D or IMAX 3D. Meanwhile, for “Green Legend,” a small-screen release for the world’s agoraphobes will allow it to become absorbed into the cultural zeitgeist all the more quickly. And it’s not difficult to see why the Weinstein Company would be interested, given its reputation for Oscar-chasing. “Crouching Tiger” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won four, including Best Foreign Language Film.
What’s that, you say? Sequels don’t win Academy Awards? Generally, no. But when Harvey Weinstein is involved, that’s not an absolute. The Weinstein-produced “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” swept the 2004 Academy Awards, netting 11 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
“Crouching Tiger” director Ang Lee, who won Best Director Oscars for “Life of Pi” and “Brokeback Mountain,” was nominated for “Crouching Tiger,” but isn’t returning to direct “Green Legend.” Yuen Wo-Ping is directing, and Michelle Yeoh
will reprise her role as Yu Shu Lien. Donnie Yen will play a new character, Silent Wolf.
Netflix has managed to upend the way we think about and consume television, but despite netting seven Creative Arts Emmys, Netflix didn’t win any primetime Emmys this year, even though it was clearly on the minds of Emmy ceremony scriptwriters.
Now the question is how serious a threat movie studios will consider Netflix’s foray into major features. The choice of “Green Legend” and a Weinstein partnership are big statements. Netflix has chosen a film with international appeal and is making it with a company known for quality work. IMAX Entertainment chief executive Greg Foster told the Hollywood Reporter he hoped the deal would bode well in the Chinese market, where Netflix is not available. These days, studios find domestic revenue simply isn’t enough. Netflix has plunged directly into these shark-infested waters — no sticking a toe in the water with a small-budget indie project here.
“The moviegoing experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement,” Weinstein said in a statement via THR. “We are tremendously excited to be continuing our great relationship with Netflix and bringing to fans all over the world the latest chapter in this amazing and intriguing story.”