Netflix is breaking tradition as they are set to give Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead a wide release in theaters before it arrives on the streaming service. Netflix, historically speaking, has not cared much about the box office. They gave movies like The Irishman theatrical runs to qualify for awards and/or appease filmmakers. But now, they seem to be exploring the space a bit more seriously.
Army of the Dead, the big-budget zombie flick directed by Zack Snyder, will play in around 600 theaters beginning May 14. That is a full week before the movie arrives on Netflix. This includes a major partnership from Cinemark, which is significant since they are one of the largest theater chains in the U.S. In the past, big chains such as AMC, Regal and Cinemark have opted not to screen Netflix movies, given the lack of an exclusive theatrical release window. Justin McDaniel, Cinemark's senior VP of global content strategy, had this to say about it.
"Cinemark is excited to work with Netflix on our first wide release and provide movie lovers the opportunity to see 'Army of the Dead' in our theatres across the U.S. Zack Snyder fans will love seeing the action in an immersive, cinematic environment with larger-than-life sight and sound technology."
2020 upended the movie business. Streaming became king as theaters were forced to shut down for months. As the box office slowly comes back to life, we are emerging into a new normal. That new normal, it seems, may include Netflix exclusives playing in a lot of theaters from time to time. Spencer Klein, Netflix's head of distribution, had this to say.
"Following the success of our limited-run in-theatre tests with Cinemark for films like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Midnight Sky and The Christmas Chronicles 2, we are looking forward to the wider theatrical release of 'Army of the Dead.'"
The movie was written by Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten and Joby Harold. The stacked A-list cast is led by Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Batista. Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma S. Qureshi, Samantha Win, Richard Cetrone and Michael Cassidy round out the ensemble.
Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), to break into the zombie-filled quarantine zone to fetch $200 million that is sitting in a vault beneath the strip. Netflix is already committed to turning this into a franchise, with a prequel movie and anime series set in the same universe in development as well.
This is Zack Snyder's first feature directorial effort since Justice League, which proved to be a long, complicated and ugly process. Tickets for Army of the Dead are available now for movie theater screenings that begin on May 14. The movie will debut on Netflix the following week on May 21. Those who wish to grab tickets and find a participating theater can do so at ArmyOfTheDeadMovie.com.