Slowly but surely, the film industry is inching back towards a form of normalcy we haven’t seen in over a year. Big movies are lining up theatrical release dates, with Disney’s Cruella and John Krasinski’s horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II expected to drop later this month. But Netflix also is doing its part to bring big-screen entertainment to the actual big screen, as it’s releasing Zack Snyder’s anticipated new Army of the Dead on more than 600 screens nationwide starting Friday, May 14.
When we sat down with Zack Snyder to talk about his new film and the return to his horror roots (his career launched with Dawn of the Dead back in 2004), he opened up about Netflix’s decision to allow the movie to go to theaters, and why that’s so important to him. Play the video above.
Even though Netflix is a streaming giant, they have been collaborating with filmmakers who have based their careers on bringing movies to physical theaters. And as is often the case, Netflix will compromise and allow some of those movies to play theaters in addition to being on the streaming service, though in the past, it usually has been an awards play so that movies like Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman could meet the Academy’s criteria and screen in a theater.
Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead isn’t an Oscar play, by any stretch, though the zombie casino heist thriller absolutely will play better on a big screen. Through a mix of practical sets (Snyder filmed in abandoned casinos in Atlantic City), CGI wizardry and monster-movie makeup techniques, Snyder has created an apocalyptic future where a zombie outbreak has been contained to Las Vegas… and now a team of mercenaries must invade that space to get money out of a casino vault.
Commenting on Netflix’s gracious decision to release Army of the Dead in select theaters for a week, Zack Snyder told CinemaBlend:
It’s incredible. It really represents … I mean, you have a company like Netflix that can really push a button, literally, and 200 million people have this movie sitting in their house. It’s incredible to think that those guys are in a position now where they can literally just go, ‘You know what? Let’s put the movie in theaters. Because it’s a cool movie, and people should go see it in theaters.’ That’s been a real breakthrough.
That’s not an exaggeration. Netflix has no need to let Army of the Dead go to theaters, and in years past, the streaming giant probably would have fought to maintain exclusivity, meaning you needed to subscribe to Netflix if you wanted to see the new Zack Snyder film. But compromising and allowing theatrical distribution, even on a small scale, builds trust in the filmmaking community, and you might start seeing more directors look towards Netflix as a director-friendly partner for moviemaking in the future.