Netflix Announces Day-and-Date 'Crouching Tiger' Sequel, Theater Chains Declare War

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If nothing else, the emergence of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video has been great for fans of industry infighting; the sheer spectacle of watching deep-pocketed conglomerates vie for customers' bandwidth has produced a succession of eyebrow-raising pacts that have spawned everything from the return of Arrested Development to the ability to binge-watch the entire series runs of Cheers, Family Ties, and Magnum P.I. (Don't you judge us.)

Here's another deal you can add to that list: Netflix has hammered out terms with the Weinstein Company to distribute the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- and not only will they stream the film, they'll send it to IMAX theaters as well (those that will agree to screen it, anyway; more on that in a bit).

Variety reports that the sequel, titled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, is currently completing principal photography in New Zealand, and will star Michelle Yeoh (reprising her role from the first movie as Yu Shu-Lien) opposite Ip Man vet Donnie Yen. Yuen Wo-Ping, who worked on The Matrix and directed Tai Chi Master, is on board to direct, with a release date scheduled for Aug. 28, 2015.

Not everyone is happy about the deal, however. Cinemark, Carmike and Regal -- three of the country's biggest theater chains -- have refused to screen it, with a Regal spokesperson telling Variety that the company is committed to presenting films "on a grand scale."

"While a homevideo release may be simultaneously performing in certain Imax locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3-inch wide on a smart phone," insisted Regal's Russ Nunley. "We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear."

It's easy to understand why the chains might feel threatened, but this is a gambit they've resisted before, when Tower Heist was slated to debut via (an outrageously priced) VOD three weeks after its theatrical bow. Outcry scotched that deal, but it seems unlikely to derail this one, and it's undoubtedly only the first of many to come.

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Jeff is an entertainment writer and editor whose work currently appears at a variety of sites, including Rotten Tomatoes, Paste, American Songwriter, Popdose, Dadnabbit, Diffuser, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

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