Alex Garland’s sci fi opus goes straight to streaming services

It seems Paramount has had a very bad couple of years, with a number of films from 2017 having had very underwhelming box office returns. Films like Baywatch, Ghost in the Shell and Transformers: The Last Knight.

Traditionally, distributors who have no idea what to do with a film condemn it to DVD, but in 2018 there’s now a new way to dump movies: send them straight to streaming services. The biggest example of this to date is the highly-anticipated Annihilation, which was released in cinemas in America, Canada and China, but is destined for release on Netflix Australia.

Hot on the heals of the straight-to-streaming The Cloverfield Paradox, it seems that due to very low box office, the best case for Alex Garland’s very well reviewed intelligent sci-fi offering is the streaming services gain.

Alex Garland, is the guy responsible for Ex Machina as well as his screenwriting work on 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let me Go and Dredd.

Annihilation is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, which is part of The Southern Reach Trilogy. The story centres on a biologist (Portman) who volunteers for mission to explore a top secret area affected by an unexplained event.

Apparently after Paramount execs freaked out about the films’ low box office return on release ($11 million) and the film apparrently being “too intellectual” and its not-quite-bankable female ensemble it forced a rethink of distribution of the film outside already released territories.

This constitutes somewhat of a blow to intelligent sci-fi and will further force distributors to shy away from thought-provoking offerings at the cinema in favour of sequels and cinematic universes from Disney. As The Guardian recently reported “With the streaming giant still set to premiere more than 60 new films this year, Annihilation – even if it’s not strictly its own – may restore some lustre to the term “Netflix movie”. But it’s something of a sacrificial lamb, sounding a bleak warning for other directors with cinematic visions that don’t fit the Marvel-era mould. If you’ve got big ideas, you might need to accept a smaller screen for them.”

The film has an exceptional roster of talent in Natalie Portman, Oscar Issac, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh and we will review the film on its release next week.

Annihilation is out March 12 on Netflix Australia.

What the trailer 

Adrian Drayton

Adrian Drayton is the Director of Reel Dialogue. A film critic and commentator on culture for 20 years, he believes in the power of cinema and the power of God to start conversations about faith and culture. He is also a massive Star Wars nerd.