Having revolutionized the television landscape by pioneering the modern phenomenon of binge-watching and bringing Oscar-caliber actors to the small screen, Netflix is now setting its sights on feature programming. Today, the streaming giant has firmed up plans to release its first sequence of theatrical-quality pics, including Beasts of No Nation and The Ridiculous Six.
Beasts of No Nation, directed by True Detective helmer Cary Fukunaga, will be released on Netflix and in select theaters on October 16. The award-tipped drama focuses on a child soldier (Abraham Attah) stolen away from his family and recruited into a civil war effort under the brutal tutelage of a warlord (Idris Elba). Its day-and-date theatrical and streaming bow will qualify the pic for Oscar attention, which had been a worry after the major theater chains boycotted the film over concerns that Netflix wasn’t honoring the typical route for theatrical releases.
Next up will be the slightly less buzzy Ridiculous Six, a Western comedy that’s the first of four films Adam Sandler is starring in and producing for Netflix via Happy Madison. It lands December 11. The Frank Coraci-directed pic also stars Terry Crews, Jorge Garcia, Taylor Lautner, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson and Nick Nolte. Plot details are under wraps, but the movie is an obvious skewering of titles like The Magnificent Seven.
Netflix also plotted a first quarter of 2016 release for its long-in-the-works Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, which will simultaneously debut online, theatrically in China and in IMAX. Martials arts choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping directed the film, in which Michelle Yeoh reprises the role of Yu Shu-Lien.
Finally, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday will be released in March of 2016. It stars Paul Reubens as his iconic manchild character, along with Joe Manganiello, Alia Shawkat, Laurence Fishburne, David Arquette, Leo Fitzpatrick and Tara Buck.
It’s thrilling to see Netflix boldly striding into feature programming, and especially with Beasts of No Nation paving the way for future prestige pics, the streaming giant is in a very fortuitous position at the moment. It also appears to have gotten around theater chains boycotting its movies, which is great to see.