Netflix takes ‘The Power of the Dog,’ Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Moss western

Jane Campion (left) and Elisabeth Moss in Cannes for ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl,’ May 2017. — AFP pic
Jane Campion (left) and Elisabeth Moss in Cannes for ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl,’ May 2017. — AFP pic

LOS ANGELES, May 31 — Revenge western The Power of the Dog, in which two brothers struggle for control of their ranch after one of them gets married, will be distributed outside of the UK by Netflix, both online and in theatres — though probably mostly online.

Written and directed by New Zealand’s Oscar winner Jane Campion (The Piano), and reuniting her with Top of the Lake (and The Handmaid’s Tale) star Elizabeth Moss, The Power of the Dog is expected in theatres and online in 2021 through Netflix.

The double distribution strategy recalls those employed for Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bird Box, and upcoming Scorsese picture The Irishman, highlighting Campion’s status as a sought-after director and implying that The Power of the Dog therefore carries the sort of awards season potential realised by Roma and Buster Scruggs.

Based on the 1967 Thomas Savage novel, and set in the 1920s, The Power of the Dog is about two brothers, co-owners of an enormously successful Montana ranch.

But when kinder, slower, younger brother George marries widower Rose (Moss) and brings her and her son back to the ranch, the more rugged, charismatic and meaner first-born Phil (Cumberbatch) sets about making her feel most unwelcome.

Why he decides to do that is gradually revealed, the apparently admirable Phil just as much manipulated by his own problems as he is a cruel manipulator of others.

With co-producer BBC Films already having tied up UK TV rights, Netflix is distributing internationally, both in theatres and online.

It’s not clear how wide that theatrical release would be, though current precedent suggests a limited US run one week before an international online streaming debut.

Netflix employed similar strategies for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, both of which were Academy Award contenders, with Roma winning two Oscars.

Similarly, Susanne Bier’s Bird Box started out in US theatres a week before its online release, and Netflix has likewise assured Martin Scorsese’s late 2019 mafia biopic The Irishman of theatrical exposure.

Prior to 1993’s The Piano, Campion was already notable thanks to a series of successes on the film festival circuit.

It was The Piano that propelled her to more mainstream fame thanks to a double Oscar nomination; she went on to direct romantic thriller In the Cut, historical romantic drama Bright Star, and both seasons of Australian crime thriller Top of the Lake. — AFP-Relaxnews

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