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Major theater chains plan to boycott Idris Elba’s new film due to Netflix debut [Update]

netflix beasts of no nation cary fukunaga
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Updated on 03-04-2015 by Rick Marshall:  Just 24 hours after the news that Netflix had acquired True Detective director Cary Fukunaga’s new film Beasts of No Nation (starring Idris Elba), the four largest theater chains announced that the film won’t be screened in their theaters, according to Variety. However, independent theater chains like the Alamo Drafthouse have indicated plans to show the film, which is expected to premiere simultaneously on the streaming service and in select theaters willing to show it.

Netflix continues to venture deeper into the wilds of original film development with the acquisition of Emmy-winning True Detective director Cary Fukunaga’s latest feature, an African war drama titled Beasts of No Nation.

The film is the latest acquisition in the original-film arena for Netflix, and is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name about a young boy’s experience after being forced into service with a group of soldiers in a West African country. The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba plays the ruthless leader of the soldiers who sets his sights on converting the boy to their cause.

The film is expected to be released simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service later this year, and is expected to give Netflix — which has already won multiple Primetime Emmy Awards for its television programming — a legitimate shot at Oscar nominations in the coming year. That’s something that even Netflix’s brash CEO Reed Hastings likely couldn’t see coming a few short years ago.

But a healthy dose of spending, and plenty of smart acquisitions by Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, have helped turn the streaming service into a legitimate network, and now, a movie studio in short order.

“Beasts of No Nation is a powerful film that unfolds beautifully in the hands of director Cary Fukunaga with Idris Elba delivering a career-defining performance,” said Sarandos in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We are so proud to bring a film of this caliber exclusively to Netflix members around the world at the same time as it appears in select theaters.”

The deal to acquire Beasts Of No Nation follows on the heels of Netflix recently acquiring the war movie Jadotville and arranging for the release of the sequel to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon simultaneously on Netflix and in IMAX theaters later this year.

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Rick Marshall
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