Netflix has booked 200 Cinemark theaters to screen Zack Snyder’s upcoming Army of the Dead, making this the first movie from the streaming giant to get a wide release on a major theater chain. As reported by Variety, Army of the Dead will be released in more than 600 movie theaters across the country, meaning Netflix might change the way it deals with theatrical releases in the future.
Until now, Netflix only pushed for small-scaled theatrical releases for its biggest productions, mostly as a way to fulfill the minimal requirements for a movie to be presented in film awards, especially the Oscars. Without having to worry about box office numbers, Netflix’s limited theatrical releases were put in place as a way to consolidate the streaming platform as a central media producer in Hollywood. Movies such as Roma and The Irishman, as an example, barely reached 100 screens across the country, mostly on smaller movie theater chains.
The effects of the pandemic, though, forced big studios to rethink their release strategies, with big players such as Warner Bros. and Disney opting for a simultaneous release both on movie theaters and on their exclusive streaming services. Recent releases, such as Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat, broke a lot of box office predictions, showing a movie can make money with tickets even if it’s available online. The next Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Window, will also test the mixed release, consolidating the viability of the release strategy.
The wide release of Netflix’s Army of the Dead reflects the recent changes in the movies industry, but also points out a future where big blockbusters titles bought or directly developed by the streaming service might be seen on the big screen. There’s no arguing movies that depend on a lot of special effects and set pieces — as is the case Army of the Dead — offers a different experience on your couch or on a theater. Having the option to choose where to watch each movie can only benefit the consumer, especially if no extra charges are involved.
Army of the Dead shouldn’t get a huge box office as the latest blockbuster releases. For comparison, Godzilla vs. Kong was available in more than three thousand theaters, against Army of the Dead’s 600. Even so, this release points to a new kind of relationship between movie theaters and Netflix, and it will be interesting to watch how future releases will be handled by the streaming platform.
Starring Dave Bautista, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana De La Reguera, Theo Rossi, Tig Notaro, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada and Garret Dillahunt, Army of the Dead will premiere May 21 on Netflix and select theaters.