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Why Are Major Movie Chains Boycotting “Beasts of No Nation”?

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The tension between traditional and emerging film industry distribution models is apparent in the recent move by America’s four-largest cinema chains; refusing to screen the child soldier drama “Beasts of No Nation”.

The film was bought by Netflix in a $12m deal, and the movie chains are upset because the popular streaming site has chosen to release it online simultaneously with its theatrical release … traditionally, there’s a ~90-day delay between big screen and small screen bows in the United States, according to Variety.

Theatre chains AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike all said they would boycott the film, which is directed by True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga and stars Idris Elba.

Netflix has proven that the online streaming distribution model can produce quality cinematic content, and be profitable with hit series like “House of Cards” and “Orange is The New Black”. For this Oscar-tipped film, Netflix needs to release in cinemas because the Oscars body “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” requires a film to be shown on the big screen in the calendar year ahead of the relevant edition of its annual ceremony.

Producer Amy Kaufman feels that the film-makers had made the right decision.

“This movie will have the muscle of Netflix behind it,” she said. “It will definitely be seen by a lot more and different kinds of people through Netflix than it would have through a traditional platform. It could be a game changer. This has the potential to change the way people perceive how movies and art are delivered to them.”

With the changing climate in film, and more viewers choosing to stream online, it could be a matter of time before major film authorities like “The Academy” become more amenable to alternative distribution methods, leaving AMC and Regal in an even tougher position to draw big films to their screens, and away from streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and even Youtube and Vimeo.

Beasts of No Nation is based on the best-selling novel by Uzodinma Iweala. The film stars Idris Elba as a warlord in an unnamed west African country who takes in a child soldier played by newcomer Abraham Attah. The $6m film was shot in Ghana last year and was bought by Netflix following a bidding war. The streaming site has recently been stepping up its first-run movie content after announcing plans to premiere the sequel to martial arts Oscar-winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon later this year.

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Billy Buntin

Written by Billy Buntin

Billy is a visual effects artist based in Washington, DC and the founder of the production house, BB Digital

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