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Netflix to release ‘Crouching Tiger’ sequel

By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-10-02 06:51

Video-streaming service Netflix and film studio Weinstein Company will release a sequel to Chinese director Ang Lee's Academy Award-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon next year.

The companies announced on Monday that the sequel to the martial arts film will premiere next August on Netflix and in select global IMAX theaters simultaneously. The movie will be Netflix's first original movie.

The sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, will be produced by the Weinstein Company, which has finance and developed Chinese films and courted the Chinese movie market in recent years.

"I think anyone who's in the film industry today, if they're doing anything even remotely to China, it has to be part of an overall strategic plan, because it's such an important market and it's growing so fast that you can't ignore the influence that China has on content and the delivery of that content," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at entertainment research company Rentrak.

"Companies either want to partner up with China-based companies or Chinese filmmakers or create studios in China. And it's all evolving, so we're still kind of figuring out where this is all going to go," he said.

Though Netflix does not have a presence in China, Dergarabedian said that the decision to release a sequel to a martial-arts themed movie is not a coincidence. Even without knowing Netflix's long-term international strategy, he said that it doesn't hurt that the sequel will be for a movie that has a strong China theme.

"It's a really smart move and a strategic move for them that will pay dividends down the road," he added.

"The movie-going experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, in a statement. "We are tremendously excited to be continuing our great relationship with Netflix and bringing to fans all over the world the latest chapter in this amazing and intriguing story."

Robert Cain, founder of Pacific Bridge Pictures and long-time consultant for Chinese media, said that although he thinks the project was chosen primarily with US viewers in mind - it was the highest-ranking Chinese language film in the US box office - Netflix still has an expanding international audience and "will be going to those audiences with this picture," he said.

"Netflix knows what their viewers want, they have tremendous reams of big data that points them to projects to make, so I assume it was driven by a deep understanding of who their audience is and what they would want," he said. "I would say the Weinstein Company, who's producing the picture, has been much more interested in China for a long time."

This push would allow Netflix-whose original programming series House of Cards has been popular with Chinese viewers, despite its streaming service not being available in China - "to get more exclusive content in international markets," wrote Tony Wible, managing director of entertainment and digital media at Janney Capital Markets, in a research note.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend will star Michelle Yeoh, who will reprise her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon role as Yu Shulien, and Donnie Yen. Principal photography is underway in New Zealand, according to Netflix, and will be directed by Yuen Woping.

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