The Weinstein Co. has been going longer and longer stretches between breakout hits. Even a niche studio needs the occasional “King’s Speech” to boost that bottom line, and they aren’t getting them.
So their deal with Netflix to distribute what seems like a dubious sequel to their years and years ago hit “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” putting it in a few IMAX theaters (86) and streaming it on Netflix, seems natural. The box office gamble on this film is shaky, Netflix will cover that.
But the theater chains, abused constantly by Hollywood’s ever-changing business model, have revolted. No IMAX showings at AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike, for starters. That’s always all of the nation’s cinemas. Why should they give a screen to a studio trying to cut them out of the picture?
I think this says more about the fading fortunes of TWC, which joins the ranks of tiny distributors — scores of whom already distribute their films this way. Nobody sees or hears of the movies when they play in a scattered dozen or so theaters. The films show up on VOD and Netflix and if anybody finds them, it’s by accident. I see 10-15 movies a month that fall under this release pattern.
But theaters, in need of the occasional blockbuster themselves, are right to fight back. Attendance isn’t going up, prices are.