Netflix is close to acquiring the distribution rights to Beasts of No Nation, the new movie from Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, HBO’s True Detective), according to Deadline. Based on a novel, the movie follows a young child recruited by an African warlord, played by Idris Elba (No Good Deed), to fight in a civil war. Fukunaga is coming off positive critical and audience reception for his work on the first season of the HBO series True Detective. He wrote and directed Beasts of No Nation, and is a producer along with Elba. Fukunaga’s involvement, along with Elba in the villain role, has led to the movie getting some early awards buzz.
This is a big get for Netflix, which is moving into film distribution territory previously reserved for the more traditional studios. Recently the online streaming service signed a deal with Adam Sandler to produce and distribute four films, including the western comedy Ridiculous 6. They also signed a deal with Judd Apatow and Paul Reubens to make the next film entry in the Pee-wee Herman series, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. While both those deals will bring in a lot of viewers, Beasts of No Nation is the first movie that has a fair amount of awards buzz for both the film and Elba’s performance.
While the movie will get some kind of theatrical release in order to be eligible for major awards, Variety is reporting that the four largest theater chains – AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike – will not carry the film. Theaters have deals with major studios that keep movies from being available in homes before the theaters can make money from them in their theaters. Beasts will likely be released simultaneously on Netflix and in a handful of independent theaters in major cities. Many major chains said they wouldn’t carry the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that Netflix is distributing with The Weinstein Company, which is scheduled to be shown on IMAX screens. There’s no telling how awards voters, who lean towards traditional methods, would respond to the unorthodox distribution model. Regardless of this resistance, Netflix doesn’t appear to be slowing down their move to become a major player in the movie industry.