In another aggressive foray into original feature acquisition, Netflix is nearing a $12 million deal to pick up Beasts of No Nation, the Cary Fukunaga-directed African drama starring Idris Elba.
Insiders say that the streaming service is planning to make a big awards push for the pic, which Fox Searchlight and Focus Features were also angling to snag. Elba stars as the commander of a West African guerilla force, which dehumanizes young children in order to turn them into effective soldiers. Fukunaga, whose star rose when he directed the first season of HBO’s True Detective last year, also penned the script and produced.
Grabbing Beasts of No Nation is just the latest victory for Netflix, which acquired Jamie Dornan-powered siege drama Jadotville for $18 million during the Berlin Film Festival. Additionally, the streaming service has secured four Adam Sandler movies, a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, a new Pee-Wee Herman movie called Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, and made a four-picture deal with the Duplass brothers.
Apparently, Netflix’s deal still involves some theatrical aspect, so Beasts of No Nation will either get a day-and-date release on Netflix and in theaters, a shortened theatrical release before landing on Netflix, or an early premiere on the streaming service before hitting the big screen.
What’s most intriguing about this latest acquisition is the amount that Netflix is clearly willing to shell out for prestige pics. The streaming service gunned for an Oscar with mountain gorilla doc Virunga this past season, and though that title eventually lost out to the more topical Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour, Netflix is clearly thirsting for some awards love.
Having taken the television world by storm with Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, the streaming service is next aiming to establish itself as a major force in Hollywood. And with the aggressive maneuvering we’ve been seeing from it lately, Netflix seems remarkably close to achieving that goal.