The impending Fede Alvarez-produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre — a decades-later sequel to Tobe Hooper’s original classic, we’ve been told – will not be released in theaters as planned by Legendary, but instead instead bring Leatherface exclusively to Netflix.
Is Leatherface available on Netflix? Why Streaming Could Be a Bold New Direction for Our Favorite Horror Franchises
The streaming service has acquired global rights to the franchise’s reboot, indicating that Leatherface will be returning to television shortly. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by David Blue Garcia, will be the franchise’s first picture since 2017, when Leatherface debuted exclusively on DirecTV ahead of a limited theatrical release. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is far from the only famous horror series adapting to these streaming-heavy times. What was once a sure theatrical franchise is now seemingly quite content with launching at home. Despite the fact that practically everything going on in the movie industry right now can be classified as a pandemic-fueled anomaly rather than the “new normal,” numerous major horror series are planning streaming debuts in the months and years ahead. Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise, the next entry in the Evil Dead franchise, is set to premiere on HBO Max next year, while David Bruckner is working on a new Hellraiser film for the Hulu streaming service. Then there’s the upcoming reboots of the Paranormal Activity and Pet Sematary franchises, both of which are being produced by Paramount Plus. Not to mention NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which is rumored to be the future home of Rob Zombie’s take on the classic TV series “The Munsters.” Meanwhile, for the first time, the Alien and Chucky franchises are producing television episodes, marking a shift in how we consume franchise horror entertainment.
All of this raises the question of whether or not streaming is the way to go for our favorite horror series. Is this anything that horror lovers should be worried about? Or is it the polar opposite? Many horror fans had the same reaction when it was announced that Evil Dead Rise would be an HBO Max film as they did this week when Leatherface’s upcoming comeback was confirmed for Netflix. Many people still see “direct-to-streaming” as a death knell for franchises, as well as a terrible sign for studio confidence in the product. But, in 2021, the days of “direct to video” being a dirty term are largely over, even if horror fans will be forever scarred by franchises like Pumpkinhead, Return of the Living Dead, and Hellraiser, to name a few, being completely annihilated by low-budget direct-to-video sequels that never even came close to matching the quality of the theatrical releases. There was a time when a franchise going direct-to-video almost insured that it was no longer a viable property, but can that really be stated now that some of the best horror films of any given year are being distributed at home rather than in theaters? To be sure, “direct-to-streaming” is a whole different universe than “direct-to-video,” and as the landscape changes, we’ll have to adjust our thinking. With the flu pandemic currently raging in the United States and a substantial section of the population refusing to be vaccinated, it makes perfect sense for a picture like Texas Chainsaw Massacre to forego a theatrical release and instead sell the final product to Netflix for an undisclosed fee. Is this a negative omen for the film’s quality?
Let’s not forget that Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street trilogy, which was supposed to be released in theaters, instead moved straight to Netflix this summer. And, for the most part, horror lovers were ecstatic. While some may claim that horror legends such as Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface belong elsewhere but on the big screen, the truth is that most of them haven’t been seen on it in a long time. Many of our favorite franchises, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Halloween, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, returned to the big screen during the horror movie “remake boom” of the 2000s. The goal of every remake is to make not just one profitable film, but a series of them, but studios have had a lot of difficulties achieving that goal in recent years. The remakes of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were both financially successful in 2009 and 2010, but neither series has been seen or heard from since. While it’s true that the Friday franchise’s hands are bound due to thorny legal difficulties, it’s also true that sequels could’ve gotten off the ground in the years after the 2009 remake… but never did. To say the least, this is a big cry from the franchise’s history, when fresh sequels were launched every year.
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