You probably didn’t realize it, but you could have seen the sequel to the groundbreaking, Oscar-winning 2000 martial-arts movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in theaters last weekend. The thing is, you just had to have lived near a select IMAX screen in the suburbs of New Jersey or California that showed it.
Netflix has vowed that it will release movies it's making in theaters and on its streaming service, simultaneously. But the company never said it would operate like the traditional distributors and report the box office of those movies.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” is Netflix's latest release rolled out via theaters and streaming on the same day, and as with “Beasts of No Nation” before, most of the major movie chains (AMC, Regal) refused to show the film, since it didn’t adhere to the typical 90-day delay between theatrical and home video/streaming (many independent film houses released “Beasts”).
But unlike “Beasts,” “Sword of Destiny” has had no reporting of its box-office results, leaving many in Hollywood shaking their heads.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, distributors started seeing the grosses for the movie show up on reporting service comScore the afternoon of Friday, February 26th, but they quickly disappeared.
“When you release a film in theaters, whether the results are good or bad, it's customary to report grosses,” Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “With a sequel of this magnitude, it's a shock that Netflix did not issue numbers, which can only mean they were pedestrian at best, terrible at worst.”
Perhaps the poor business “Beasts” did in theaters on its opening weekend, grossing just $50,699 in 31 theaters in 30 US cities (a theater average of $1,635) caused Netflix to keep “Sword of Destiny” numbers to themselves. But there’s no way to confirm. Netflix said it has no comment for this story.
Regardless, major studios and independents release their weekend grosses every week, regardless of how they might look, and many in Hollywood believe Netflix should be held to the same standard.
“If you want to be in the distribution game, it's helpful to exhibitors [theaters] to be transparent,” Bock said. “Netflix was with ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ and the results were poor. The fact that they are basically hiding debut numbers makes everyone uncomfortable in the distribution world. It's no wonder they had a difficult time booking the film.”
A big reason why “Sword of Destiny” even played in theaters is because AMC reversed its ban at the 11th hour and allowed four to six of its 153 IMAX screens to show the film over the February 27-28 weekend.
An IMAX rep told the New York Post that, in total, “Sword of Destiny” was shown on 10-12 IMAX screens.
The kicker to all of this is there seems to be no trouble finding out how "Sword of Destiny" did overseas. According to THR, the movie grossed nearly $36 million abroad, mainly in China.
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