The frosty relationship between Netflix and the theatrical industry has thawed considerably over the years, with both the big chains and independent cinemas once very wary of the streaming service stealing their business away. However, the impending debut of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead marks the biggest step yet, with the zombie heist actioner premiering in theaters tomorrow on over 600 screens.
Not only is that the widest release so far for a Netflix original film, but it’s also seven days before it gets added to the platform’s content library, and it could end up being an ingenious method of mobilizing Snyder’s loyal and dedicated following to give an ailing industry a shot in the arm. The goodwill generated by HBO Max’s Justice League has fans more excited than ever to see what the director has in store with Army of the Dead, so there are no doubt going to be a lot of people heading out to see it on the biggest screen possible a week early.
In a new interview, Snyder had nothing but praise for Netflix, especially when the company is under absolutely no obligation to play any of its in-house titles in theaters, with the director saying:
“It’s incredible. It really represents, I mean, you have a company like Netflix that can really push a button, literally, and 200 million people have this movie sitting in their house. It’s incredible to think that those guys are in a position now where they can literally just go, ‘You know what? Let’s put the movie in theaters. Because it’s a cool movie, and people should go see it in theaters’. That’s been a real breakthrough.
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It used to be the case that a film was required to have even a limited theatrical release in order to qualify for Academy Awards consideration, and it would be an understatement to say that Netflix were indifferent to rolling out Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Of course, the pandemic changed the criteria and saw the streamer land two Best Picture nominees that never reached the inside of the cinema, so Army of the Dead is clearly an olive branch being extended as the industry continues to get back on its feet.