In late September 2014, Netflix announced it would premiere “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” on Aug. 28, 2015, which happens to be the same day it will premiere in theaters.
This announcement has stirred up controversial emotions for Netflix users, moviegoers and fans of the film’s prequel “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
During spring 2014, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point offered a Chinese Cinema class in the Division of Communication program. The class studied “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Having familiarized themselves with the art of cinema and this particular film, those from the class offered their opinions about Netflix’s latest announcement.
“I find it both exciting yet worrying that this sort of release could set a trend for future movie releases,” said WWSP-90FM Production Director, Harrison Meyer. “On one hand, this gives lesser known movies, maybe independent films, a better way of accessing moviegoers who have trouble seeing them upon release. The closest location these films are shown is two hours away from Point, so I can attest to the frustration.”
Meyer was enrolled in Chinese Cinema as a sophomore and has been a Netflix user on and off for the past six years. He said he values Netflix for its convenience, but would prefer to sit in a movie theater for a film’s premiere.
“I have a hard time believing that a sequel to ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ would be better watched on a home television or laptop rather than the silver screen, so there is the possibility that consumers won’t get that full experience while streaming,” Meyer said.
UWSP alumnus Erik Kersting was enrolled in chinese cinema during his last semester at UWSP. Also a former employee of UWSP Centertainment,
Kersting said Netflix’s new strategy would be better utilized for more independent, small and artistic films.
“Netflix is clearly paying the producers of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2’ the lost opportunity cost of having a film only in theaters,” Kersting said. “Films like ‘The Avengers’ or even mildly large films like ‘Meet the Millers’ will take a long time to reach the point of simultaneous release. It would take a major upheaval of the system in order for films to use this as a viable model for making money.”
Flannery Wilson taught Chinese Cinema but is now teaching Italian at University of California-Riverside. Wilson recently released her first published work through Edinburgh University Press, “New Taiwanese Cinema in Focus.”
Wilson said Netflix releasing “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” the same day it hits theaters should not be the only thing surprising about the film, but that Ang Lee is not the director.
“Without Ang Lee as director, many fans of the original will beC instantly turned off,” Wilson said.M “Why pay for a potentially terrible sequel in theaters when you can pay less to have a potentially terrible experience privately? I’m not saying that the film will necessarily be bad. I doubt that most people will onlywatch it in the theaters.”
Wilson admitted “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was not her favorite film screened in the Chinese Cinema class. Wilson said if she decided to watch the film, she would likely use Netflix before paying to see it in theaters.
“The fact that Ang Lee is not directing further disappoints me, but that says more about me than it does the film,” Wilson said. “As far as Netflix and the movie experience goes, there is no point in embracing bad cinema in the name of technological democracy. I think most films are made worse by sequels, so I guess we have yet to see whether or not this will be the case with the new ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’”
Though there is still fear among moviegoers that the art of theater-going may be enlisted to death row given Netflix’s announcement, it seems there is still enough excitement about the feeling of sitting in a popcorn perfumed room that continues to enchant audiences to keep traditions alive.
“My general rule for movies is if it looks interesting and I have the time and money, I will go see it at the theater,” Meyer said. “For me, Netflix is for movies I may have missed or older movies I would like to enjoy, but if it’s currently playing I will make an effort to see it on the big screen. To me, that’s where they are meant to be watched.”