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Most theaters in the U.S. won’t give screen time to African war drama Beasts of No Nation, the latest film acquired by Netflix in a $12 million deal.
That means the movie, directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba, may only get a berth in 200 to 250 independent theaters, according to exhibition sources.
Other theater chains — including the country’s largest circuits, Regal, AMC and Cinemark — remain opposed to playing a film that is debuting simultaneously elsewhere.
Netflix, which is aggressively growing its film slate, intends to debut Beasts of No Nation in theaters and on its streaming service later this year.
The war drama is based on Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala‘s novel about a child soldier torn from his family to fight in a civil war in an unnamed African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah stars as the boy, while Elba plays the warlord.
Red Crown produced the movie, with Participant Media co-financing.
It’s not the first time that Netflix and exhibitors have found themselves at odds. In September, Netflix and Imax announced a deal whereby the purported sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will debut day and date on Netflix and in select Imax theaters. However, circuits that operate Imax venues, including AMC and Regal, immediately said they wouldn’t play the movie.
A similar challenge faced Sony’s controversial comedy The Interview, which ended up being offered digitally and in theaters simultaneously. As a result, only independent cinemas would play the film, which topped out at $6.1 million at the box office (it earned north of $50 million when accounting for digital and VOD sales).
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Representation in Hollywood