Netflix Will Release ‘Okja’ in U.S. Theaters
Netflix is the future, that much seems beyond debate. But the shape of that future remains very much in flux. The video-streaming platform recently generated some friction with the Cannes Film Festival over the negotiation between theatrical runs and online releasing, a mini-controversy resolved with the edict that Netflix would have to set plans to get their movies into theaters if they want to be included at Cannes moving forward. 2017’s shaping up to be a pivotal year for Netflix, as they prepare to debut more high-profile films than ever and continuously hash out a strategy for best doing that.
Th lingering question of Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s new sci-fi picture, received a definitive answer today. A recent article at Indiewire framed Bong’s latest as the centerpiece of Netflix’s growing pains, an in-all-likelihood-excellent film in danger of getting buried beneath an avalanche of content with little promotion to attract viewers. The good news (courtesy of Deadline) is that Okja will indeed see a run in brick-and-mortar theaters this summer, both in these United States and Bong’s home nation of South Korea. While the story of a girl and her giant mutant creature bestie will materialize on Netflix come June 28, theaters in Korea, America, and the U.K. will get real-world access the next day.
Though this would appear to provide resolution to the ongoing issue of Okja’s entry into the world, it opens up a wider field of concerns for moviegoers. For one, having the film readily available in your living room or on your laptop could very well kneecap the film’s theatrical grosses, discouraging Netflix from implementing a similar strategy in the future. At the Korean event where the release was announced, Netflix head Ted Sarandos provided the ominous quote, “Distribution is something that will be argued for many years, because innovation is difficult.” Okja may be safe for today, but we’re far from out of the woods.