Netflix to release 'Crouching Tiger' sequel in 2015

Netflix headquarterse Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Netflix says it now has 50 million users in over 40 countries worldwide

The video streaming site Netflix will release its first feature-length film next year after striking a deal with the Weinstein Company.

The sequel to Ang Lee's Oscar-winning martial arts drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will be shown on Netflix and in Imax cinemas in August.

Netflix has over 50 million subscribers, in more than 40 countries.

The firm already produces its own TV programmes, notably the politically-themed House of Cards.

"The movie-going experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company.

"We are tremendously excited to be continuing our great relationship with Netflix and bringing to fans all over the world the latest chapter in this amazing and intriguing story."

The sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, will see former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh reprise her role as warrior Yu Shu-Lien, while Chinese action star Donnie Yen joins the cast as a character called Silent Wolf.

However, director Ang Lee will not be returning to film the sequel. Those duties have been taken over by Chinese director Yuen Wo-Ping, who has already started filming in New Zealand.

This is not the first time that Netflix has worked with the Weinstein Company. The two are set to release a drama series about Italian explorer Marco Polo in December.

Last week, Netflix bought the rights to historical drama Peaky Blinders, first aired on the BBC, in a separate deal with the Weinstein Company and production group Endemol.

Record nominations

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Director Ang Lee will not be filming the sequel to his Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The entertainment company, which started in 1997 as a postal DVD rental service, has seen its profits surge in recent months.

In July, it reported profits of $71m (£43.8m) for the second quarter of 2014.

Last year, Netflix's original programming was nominated for 14 Emmy TV awards, winning three, and this year its programmes received a record 31 nominations.

The alliance with the Weinstein Company may give Netflix a shot at winning an Academy Award, which requires feature films to be played in cinemas for at least a week to qualify for a nomination.

However, Netflix has suffered some setbacks in the US, and is engaged in a battle with internet service providers such as Verizon over who should pay for the increasing strain that streaming video puts on download speeds.

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