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'Crouching Tiger' sequel pits theatre owners against Netflix

U.S. theater chain Regal Entertainment Group said it would not show the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in any of its IMAX theaters, objecting to a move by IMAX and Netflix to side step a normal theater release.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, which manages about 150 IMAX theaters in the United States, also refused to premiere the sequel, joining the list of Regal and Cinemark, according to the Hollywood reporter.

The sequel to the Oscar-winning movie will be premiered on August 28 on Netflix Inc’s online streaming service and simultaneously in select global IMAX theaters, Netflix and IMAX Corp said earlier on Tuesday.

“The worry is nobody is going to come to a movie theater when you can sit at home, watch it on your TV at Netflix, which you only pay nine dollars a month for,” explained Lisa Richwine, a media and entertainment correspondent for Reuters.

She also said that the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel would not be the last film to debut online.

“I think you will definitely see more movies that are released through video on demand or Netflix, either at the same times as the theaters or just to on-demand because people are getting used to having so many options at home,” she said.

Netflix is jointly producing the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend with Weinstein Co, marking the online video service company’s entry into feature film production.

The movie will be the first of several others to premiere at the same time on Netflix as well as in IMAX theaters, the companies said.

The film is a sequel to Ang Lee’s martial arts epic released in 2000 and is directed by martial arts choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping.