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Netflix buys Idris Elba movie, usual furor ensues

Flush with $1 billion in borrowed cash and the lust for power that comes from binge-watching House Of Cards, Netflix recently paid a reported $12 million to acquire the rights to the child-soldier drama Beasts Of No Nation. Directed by True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga from the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, the film stars Idris Elba as a guerrilla commander in an unnamed West African country who takes in a young boy and trains him to serve as a child soldier. It’s a marked change of pace for Netflix, whose other original projects will feature more horse-poop jokes and thrilling highwire stunts than systematic dehumanization. (Although the streaming service still has three Adam Sandler movies to go, so the systematic dehumanization thing may just happen naturally.)

Netflix reportedly outbid major distributors like Fox Searchlight and Focus Features to acquire the film, a sign that it’s pursuing alternate methods of filling in its trophy case now that Orange Is The New Black isn’t considered a comedy for Emmy purposes anymore. To this end, the streaming service is planning to give its undoubtedly brutally depressing new $12 million acquisition a proper theatrical release—albeit on the same day that the film will debut on Netflix.


The company tried this so-called “day and date” method once before with its Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, the announcement of which resulted in a boycott of the film from America’s three largest theater chains. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the nachos you can make at home are still infinitely better than the flavorless cardboard discs available at your local multiplex, those same theater chains have now vowed to boycott Beasts Of No Nation as well. But considering that the film’s theatrical run seems to be a mere formality required to qualify Beasts Of No Nation for next year’s Oscars, as long as someone shows the movie—and 200 or so independent theaters are expected to do just that—it’s debatable how much Netflix actually cares.

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