Natalie Portman Annihilation

In a move to shrink the window between theatrical release and home video/streaming, Netflix is cutting a deal with Paramount and Skydance to bring Alex Garland's Annihilation -- his follow up to Ex Machina -- to its overseas streaming platform 17 days after the film premieres in the U.S. Welcome to the future.

According to a report on Deadline, Annihilation will still get a traditional theatrical release in the U.S., Canada and China beginning on February 23. But this deal expands on a model that is trying to help films perform in international markets where they'd normally struggle to find an audience.

Before Annihilation, Netflix struck a similar deal with New Line on its sequel to Shaft, a movie that will bring back Samuel L. Jackson (from the reboot) and Richard Roundtree (from the original Shaft franchise). It also will cast Jessie T. Usher of Independence Day: Resurgence as Shaft's son. Deadline notes that Netflix paid more than half of that film's budget, and received the rights to stream it internationally.

When figuring out why it makes sense to do this, Paramount and Skydance likely looked to Alex Garland's previous film, Ex Machina, which earned $25.4 million in the States, but only $11.4M overseas, according to BoxOfficeMojo. And that was WITH spectacular reviews and an RT score in the high 90s. Paramount will assume that Annihilation will make the most bang for its buck in the U.S., then get it in front of international audiences using Netflix's in-place distribution model at a fraction of the marketing costs.

The window of 17 days still surprises me. Could this be the future? So many movies make a large chunk of their earnings in the first two weekends, so allowing a first-run movie to hit a streaming service afterwards opens it up to a larger potential audience (though I'd imagine it gets very confusing for the revenue streams on playbacks of the movies in question).

Annihilation is a sci-fi mystery adapted from the novel by Jeff VanderMeer that's about a biologist who "signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition." Vague af? You bet. So try the trailer:

Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac and Gina Rodriguez. It will be in theaters on February 23. And if you are reading this from outside the U.S., you can see it on Netflix 17 days later!

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