Netflix, Weinstein Co. Bust Windows With ‘Crouching Tiger’ Sequel Day-and-Date Release

'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' Sequel: Netflix

Film to debut simultaneously on Netflix and in IMAX theaters Aug. 28, 2015; first of several day-and-date titles covered in pact

Netflix has reached a deal with The Weinstein Co. for its first original movie — a sequel to Ang Lee’s 2000 martial arts pic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — set to hit IMAX theaters and the streaming-video service simultaneously next summer.

The film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend,” is slated for a Aug. 28, 2015, debut. Produced by Weinstein Co., the movie is the first of several major films to premiere day-and-date both on the SVOD service (at no extra charge) and in select IMAX theaters worldwide. Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.

Netflix has been eyeing day-and-date releases of movies, as chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a keynote last year at the Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles. The launch of the movie is likely to catch the ire of exhibitors — who have in the past viewed digital encroachment on theatrical windows as a threat.

Meanwhile, Netflix already has an output deal with Weinstein Co. that makes the Internet-streaming provider the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run films from TWC, beginning in 2016, and has other deals with the studio including for original series “Marco Polo.”

“Fans will have unprecedented choice in how they enjoy an amazing and memorable film that combines intense action and incredible beauty,” Sarandos said in a statement. “We are honored to be working with Harvey Weinstein and a world-class team of creators to bring this epic story to people all over the world and to partner with IMAX, a brand that represents the highest quality of immersive entertainment, in the distribution of this film.”

Added Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of TWC, “The moviegoing experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement. 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.”

IMAX, for its part, has high hopes for the release in China — where Netflix does not presently offer service. In territories where Netflix and IMAX simultaneously release the film, “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,” said Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX Entertainment.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” will star Michelle Yeoh (pictured, above) reprising her role from the first movie as Yu Shu-Lien, along with Donnie Yen (first two “Ip Man” movies, “Monkey King 3D”) as Silent Wolf. The original 2000 film generated $213 million worldwide at the box office, including $128 million in the U.S.; among its awards haul were four Oscars, including best foreign language film.

The sequel is directed by martial-arts choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, who previously helmed “Tai Chi Master” and choreographed fight scenes in “The Matrix” trilogy and the first two “Kill Bill” movies from Quentin Tarantino.

Principal photography is now underway in New Zealand. The new movie is based on “Iron Knight, Silver Vase” by Wang Dulu and scripted by John Fusco (“Marco Polo”), the original series about the famed explorer being produced by Weinstein Co. for Netflix.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” is produced by Harvey Weinstein and Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey (both of “Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor” and “Hancock”). Executive producers are Morten Tyldum, Ralph Winter, Anthony Wong and Bey Logan.

The film’s director of photography is Tom Sigel (“Drive,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) with the design team led by “Lord of the Rings” collaborators costume designer Ngila Dickson, production designer Grant Major and visual effects supervisor Mark Stetson.

The cast of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” also includes Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee,” “Revenge of the Green Dragons”), Jason Scott Lee  (“Seventh Son,” “Hawaii Five-O”), Roger Yuan (“Bulletproof Monk”), Eugenia Yuan (“Revenge of the Green Dragons”) and newcomer Natasha Liu Bordizzo.

Weinstein Co. has rattled movie-release windows before. Most recently, the studio cut a deal with Yahoo, which will stream biopic “One Chance” for free starting Sept. 30 — 10 days before the movie hits theaters Oct. 10.

Theater owners have fought attempts by studios to move homevideo and VOD releases closer to or concurrent with theatrical bow, fearing that the move will hurt ticket sales. In 2011, Universal scrapped plans to offer “Tower Heist” on cable VOD — for $60 a pop, three weeks after hitting theaters — after several exhibitors responded by saying they would refuse to show the caper pic.

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  1. Chris says:

    While I am a huge fan of CTHD, I am a little sad that there is going to be a sequel. CTHD is a story that has ended. Most of the major characters are dead, and it all felt “finished”. I realize that Netflix/Weinstein want money, and this is a good way to get it, but some movies shouldn’t have a sequel. Look at Matrix or Saw. Both great movies if left alone but continuing the story just made them silly.

  2. I am so looking forward to this. But Mr. Weinstein, fans want to see Cung Le recast in the film with Donnie Yen. I know there was a scheduling conflict but now that has changed! Another epic matchup between them would be awesome! Here is my open message to you about that, https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=708472492573914&set=o.120360911366479&type=2&theater. I did it for entertaining purposes and to make a point. Fans do care about how you present Martial Arts, Asian and Action Cinema to them. I hope you will take heart and listen. Good Day, Sir.

  3. ken says:

    The “no one cares” remarks are amusing. CTHD was a Chinese movie, based on a Chinese novel, in a genre that’s uniquely Chinese. The fact that it became a hit in the US was a happy accident; it didn’t fare well in China, which was a negligible market at the time. Now that China is the second biggest film market in the world, do people still think that Americans are the sequel’s primary target audience?

    Of course no one in America asked for a sequel. The wuxia genre was a one-hit fad that America forgot after a few wuxia movies (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) did progressively worse. Meanwhile in China, wuxia has been the mainstay of Chinese fantasy for decades. CTHD remains a hot piece of IP that spawned off a TV series and several games. The Chinese audience have wanted a prequel/sequel to (or even a remake of) CTHD for years, and Chinese filmmakers have wanted to make them for just as long.

    The Weinstein Co. bought the adaptation rights to the novels way back in 2006. Why wait so long to make a sequel? The answer is obvious: they were waiting for the Chinese market to grow. They don’t much care whether Americans want the sequel – any money they earn Stateside will be gravy.

    “IMAX, for its part, has high hopes for the release in China — where Netflix does not presently offer service.” There you have it.

  4. therealeverton says:

    What an amazingly terrible idea. We’re supposed to be fighting to keep cinema going right? Not hastening its demise.

  5. Thomas says:

    Is the subtitle The Green Legend or The Green Destiny?! Stop confusing us!

  6. cadavra says:

    Wow, from a $120 million-grossing original to a $1.2 million-grossing sequel. The industry is eating its own tail.

  7. I wonder if the filmmakers have revealed if the movie will be shot in IMAX. If so, how much of the film’s running time do they anticipate will be in IMAX? All of it; half of it, 20 minutes? Give that Crouching Tiger is one of the most successful foreign language films of all time, this is a really bold experiment on a very valuable property.

  8. Ann says:

    Michelle Yeoh and Yuen Wo Ping – fabulous! But I want to see it on the Big Screen – in a MOVIE THEATER not at home on a flat screen.

  9. Contessa46 says:

    I love going to the movies more than staying home in my own den and watching a movie. As a life long movie goer (68 yrs. old) I find it much more social and always pair it up with dinner and make it a fun evening. It’s especially nice to discuss the movie with friends. Between movie streaming and cell phones, we will all lose the ability to converse! It’s really very isolating!

    • John Shutt says:

      Not a fan of this move at all either. I dont think Netflix knows anything about how the film industry works and hope this great experiment fails. Like you and I hope many others, I shall be standing by the theaters from now until the end of time

  10. WTF Guy says:

    Interesting move.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Only if one wants to see the demise of movie theaters. Like call else, ufvstuduos move in this direction, it’ll be goodbye to the multiplex. Advancement us great, BUT, not all advancement benefits society. Soon, one eibt even need to leave home. What a wonderful world it will be!

      • xana says:

        @Jax really no one cares? The first movie grossed $213.5 million with $128 million in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history. 
        People are going to want to watch this sequel especially Donnie Yen who has had a huge following in the US is the new star.
        The fact that theaters are threatened about it should say something.

      • John Shutt says:

        I’m not a fan of this move either plus I feel that Netflix’s ego has really gotten out of hand recently. I have refused to cave into their buisness and this news makes me resent them even more. I’ll be supporting the theaters from now until the end of time

      • Jax says:

        I don’t think its strategy a lot of other studios will use but its a good move for this movie, since no one really cares about it.

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