Maybe it was inevitable that Netflix would one day get into original movies, but hardly anyone would have predicted such a splashy entrance. Next year, Netflix, in a partnership with The Weinstein Company, will make its production debut with the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Academy Award-winning art-house epic that pushed the limits of cinematography in 2000.
The film will debut on August 28, 2015, and will be released both on Netflix and in select IMAX theaters simultaneously. Netflix subscribers won’t have to pay any extra to watch it online. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Legend will join the service’s regular catalog for anyone to watch. Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as the film’s star, but the original film’s director, Ang Lee, won’t be returning. In his place is Drunken Master director Yuen Woo-Ping.
Deadline reports that this isn’t the only feature film that Netflix is currently working on, but it is the most high-profile. It’s unclear how much Netflix paid for the rights to the Crouching Tiger sequel, but it’s worth noting that the original film was made for a mere $23.5 million in 2000. That said, Netflix has been known to gamble big: House of Cards cost Netflix $100 million-plus.
While its forays into original series like Orange is the New Black have been critical darlings, Netflix’s real competitive advantage might be its ability to keep secrets, which may be why landing the Crouching Tiger sequel strikes us as such a surprise. As one industry observer told Fast Company‘s Nicole Laporte last year, “Nobody knows what the hell is going on inside Netflix. And that’s the way Netflix likes it.”