The No. 1 exhibition chain won’t give IMAX, Netflix and The Weinstein Co a free pass with their initiative to disrupt theaters’ effort to remain the exclusive venue to see major new films. The three companies said yesterday that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend will premiere on Netflix and IMAX screens beginning when it premieres August 28, 2015. But Regal’s Russ Nunley says today that that the chain “will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3 inches wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.” He adds that this is part of the company’s commitment to “continually enhance the moviegoing experience.”
Many analysts figured that Regal and other exhibition chains would buck at the attempt to debut movies on Netflix, which won’t charge extra for subscribers to see the film. Studios have wanted to shorten the window before theatrical films also become available on home video, but their experiments mostly involved “unsuccessful, lower budget films,” B. Riley analyst Eric Wold says. With the follow up to the Ang Lee-directed 2000 martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — which generated $128M domestically and $214M overseas — “the sequel actually brings a solid franchise/property into this equation.” He noted that the announcement was a positive for IMAX even if U.S. theaters tried to bar the release: The film likely will do well on its screens in China, where Netflix is not offered, and would “provide some interesting data points for further experiments such as this.”
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