Jeremy Saulnier's Hold the Dark is fucking terrific (full review coming Friday). However, many are lamenting the fact that the widescreen grandiosity of this portentous, violent journey into an Alaskan heart of darkness is going to be lost when viewed for the first time in somebody's living room, courtesy of being a Netflix Original.
Well, it seems that the streaming giant is going to address these concerns beyond screening the film at festivals such as TIFF and Fantastic Fest. Saulnier's harrowing adaptation of William Giraldi's novel is going to receive a brief theatrical roll out in select cities this weekend. The news was announced on Saulnier's Twitter feed, where he praised his picture's backers:
See it LARGE! See it LOUD! HOLD THE DARK is coming TO THEATERS in NYC, LA, SF, Austin, Denver, Virginia THIS WEEK. Fans of Cinema: @NetflixFilm is paying attention. If you support #HoldTheDark 's big screen release, there will be more to come. OPENS 9/28. Select shows w/ Q&As.— Jeremy Saulnier (@saulnier_jeremy) September 25, 2018
Before including ticket links to the auditorums projecting his latest triumph:
Austin: https://t.co/5Z3TgKZlqn— Jeremy Saulnier (@saulnier_jeremy) September 25, 2018
San Francisco: https://t.co/3UT3EqeP5N
Woodbridge: https://t.co/aK9wyvvoUF@alamodrafthouse @IFCCenter @laemmlemonica
As you'll notice, the Alamo Drafthouse is hosting five of those seven screens (alongside NYC's esteemed IFC Center and LA's Laemmle), on top of playing the picture at Fantastic Fest. It's a movie that a bunch of us here at BMD love, and can't wait for the rest of you to see (hopefully, in a dark room, seated next to complete strangers).
Just as his tweet indicates, Saulnier is a vocal supporter of Netflix and, when I sat down to talk with the director and his co-writer Macon Blair at FF (full interview also coming this weekend), he had some glowing things to say about making a movie for the company:
"They're not risk averse in the same ways other studios are. You know, the sort of not so secret dark underbelly of this industry is that a lot of films just don't get made right because they don't hit check all the boxes. Even people like myself sometimes forget that fact: as both a filmmaker, and as an audience member. I'm bored by a lot of stuff anymore. I want to see new, exciting films, and Netflix isn't governed by what others are governed by. They just need to deliver material that excites their viewership, the motivation is for them to want to watch more, not to guarantee dollar profit up-front, or presale other territories and hedge their bets. They can take huge risks because of that."
While obviously there are contractual (and superficial) awards concerns wrapped up in these theatrical showings (qualifying Netflix's Originals for Oscar Season), it's still nice to see that the company is giving at least a portion of their potential viewership (however small it may be) a chance to see weird, ambitous works like Hold The Dark for the first time in a traditional, big screen setting. The future of distribution is continuing to evolve, and this feels like another bit of experimentation from its current disruptive leader.