Netflix original zombie movie Army of the Dead will be available to watch in select Cinemark theaters starting next week, giving viewers the opportunity to watch the feature film on the big screen. Though some Netflix movies have made appearances in theaters in the past, those have been limited. The Army of the Dead launch at Cinemark will be Netflix’s biggest theatrical release ever, potentially marking a change in the way the company handles it blockbuster titles.
Whereas many companies have started experimenting with movie releases on digital at the same time they premiere in theaters, Netflix is taking the opposite approach. The company has historically only made its content available on its streaming service, the only exception being limited theatrical runs to qualify it for awards.
Netflix’s decision to run Army of the Dead in hundreds of Cinemark theaters before it arrives on the streaming service isn’t entirely surprising. The company indicated several years ago that it may explore this kind of hybrid premiere, though cinemas were firmly against the idea at the time.
The pandemic has changed many things in the industry, however, and as restrictions loosen in the US, many people are eager to head back to the cinema and other places that had largely been closed over the past year. Starting tomorrow, more than 600 Cinemark theaters across the US will screen Army of the Dead before it hits the streaming platform on May 21.
Whether the theatrical run will be a hit for Netflix remains to be seen. The premiere will come only a day after the CDC reassured the public that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors, which may have many people may be heading to their local theater for the first time in more than a year. However, Netflix only announced the planned theatrical run earlier this month, meaning many people are likely unaware that it will even be an option.