Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft sequel gets swallowed up by Netflix outside of the US reigniting the Netflix Vs. Cinema debate
Ok, now I’m seriously p****d off!
Let me tell you why. As a child of the 1970s, I grew up with the classic ‘Blaxploitation‘ films. All-time classics like ‘Foxy Brown‘, ‘Superfly‘, ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song‘, ‘Penitentiary‘ and ‘Cleopatra Jones‘ were released to counter the ‘All White’ action movie genre. Pam Grier stood tall and was one of the ultimate female badasses in movie history. Jim Brown took no s**t from anyone. Jim Kelly gave as good as he got. And who could forget Fred Williamson’s epic turn in the original ‘The Inglorious Bastards’? Soul music was the soundtracks to these movies. And they were fabulous films in their own right. But to me, the best of them all was the original ‘Shaft‘. Now, this was a character EVERYONE could get behind. He was cool, took no prisoners and with his famous and Oscar-winning title song, became one of the most loved characters ever created for the movie screen. Richard Rowntree played him to sheer perfection and the film is among one of my personal favourites of all time.
In 2000, Shaft made his reappearance in the shape of the ultimate bad motherf****r, Samuel L. Jackson. His version of Shaft was one for the ages. Not a remake or reboot but a continuation of the Shaft family story, I found the film to be sheer bliss. Harkening back to those classic 70s days and with a great screenplay and knowledge of what went before it, the film paid the ultimate tribute to its foundations by getting Richard Rowntree to reprise his role as the original John Shaft, now the uncle of Jackson’s version of the character. Adding to the joy was the fact they included Issac Hayes ‘ classic theme as the opening to the film and composer David Arnold incorporated it into his score. Shaft was back, baby! Big time.
This year sees the release of another version of the film. This 2019 version is a follow on of the 2000 film. Again, Samuel L. Jackson leads the line alongside Richard Rowntree but is joined on this occasion by Jessie T Usher as ‘J.J Shaft’, the estranged son of Jackson’s Shaft and the Grandnephew of Rowntree’s Shaft. Also added to the line up is Regina Hall as Shaft II’s ex-wife and mother of J.J Shaft. When I found out the film was coming, I was over the moon. Yet again, I could sit in a darkened movie theatre and enjoy some good old fashioned Shaft action.
And then the truth came out.
‘Shaft 2019’ is opening at movie theatres in the U.S only. It hits multiplexes on June 14th. The rest of the world has to wait two weeks to see the film and where can they see it? NETFLIX!
Are you kidding me? This isn’t right. Netflix may have put half of the budget into the production of the film but denying the rest of the world the chance to see the film on the big screen? Making outside of the U.S view the film on a television subscription service? Come on, get real. I don’t want to sit in my lounge and see the film yet. I WANT to see the film where it belongs, on the cinema screen. Not on my TV. Cinema was made to show films like this and now almost the entire world is having that privilege taken from them by some unscrupulous money men.
Where will this end? Will TV subscription services kill off the movie theatres worldwide? Steven Spielberg has already gone on record with his fears about the industry now that Netflix and the rest are paying money into films and then putting them on their networks instead of releasing them where they belong. And he’s right. This kind of deal studios are making now will murder the industry and the movie houses around the world. Where will we be in ten years time if this continues? Going to the movies is an experience I relish. Every time the lights go down and the movie rolls, it feels to me like I’m where I belong, where the best entertainment should be, not sitting on my ass on the couch and not getting the full experience.
If this had happened all those years ago in the 70s, it would be decried as racist to deny the ‘Blaxploitation‘ movies to a movie-going audience. And they would almost certainly have a point. TV subscription services DO make top quality entertainment, they DO make original content that we, the audience can enjoy. BUT don’t allow these companies to take away something which brings joy to the masses around the world. DON’T let them kill off the movie theatre. With this shameful act that Netflix and the studio have pulled with this film, the whole world has been well and truly shafted.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!