EXCLUSIVE: Netflix and Paramount/Skydance are negotiating a deal on the Alex Garland-directed Annihilation that will give the streaming service international rights to the sci-fi thriller, and an opportunity to release the film on its overseas streaming service 17 days after the film premieres in the the U.S. on February 23. Paramount will do the traditional theatrical release in the U.S., Canada and China.
Putting a major film on Netflix internationally three weekends after its release is as groundbreaking as a similar deal Netflix made with New Line on the next installment of Shaft.
Garland’s follow-up to Ex-Machina stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez in a script Garland adapted from the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling Southern Reach trilogy. After the husband (Isaac) of a biologist (Portman) turns up missing, she volunteers for a secret mission into alien territory — a cordoned-off forest where a shape-shifting, Aurora Borealis-looking being awaits. Seems that previous attempts to explore the area met with disastrous results.
The deal is similar in spirit to one that Netflix made recently with New Line on its sequel to Shaft, which black-ish creator Kenya Barris scripted and Tim Story is directing with Samuel L. Jackson in the role of John Shaft, with Independence Day: Resurgence and Starz’ Survivor’s Remorse star Jessie T. Usher is set to play Shaft’s son, and Richard Roundtree reprising his character from the original 1971 film. Netflix paid more than half that film’s $30 million budget. When Deadline revealed the Shaft deal, it presented itself as a new model for films that prove challenging on the international front, an opportunity in a fast-changing landscape.
Annihilation will be the next film to test that model. Aside from covering a majority of the film’s budget, the feeling was that a specialized movie like this realizes the bulk of its theatrical gross domestically. A close cousin would be Garland’s Ex Machina, which grossed $25.4 million domestically and $11.4 million internationally, this with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Annihilation will potentially be seen by a much larger audience overseas as a fresh Netflix film with far less spending on P&A, was the rational behind this. I expect it to become more common as Netflix is hungry to feed its global audience and films like this prove a challenge to market in overseas theaters.
Check out the previously released teaser trailer above. Paramount and Netflix would not comment.