International, star-studded movie releases fit out with red carpets, designer threads and screaming paparazzi see lead actors tour major cities across the globe to promote their film. They have an air of exclusivity associated with them and tend to be reserved for the creme de la creme of feature films.  

So, why did The Harder They Fall – a movie that’s co-produced by Hollywood A-Lister Jay Z – choose to forgo the opportunity of an international traditional theatrical release and send the movie to Netflix just 12 days after its released in limited theatres?

The answer is somber. One of the producers of The Harder They Fall, James Lassiter, spoke about the reason behind the movie’s release to limited theaters on October 22, before its full release to Netflix on November 3. Speaking to Insider, Lassiter revealed that he believes there’s a “built-in” racial bias associated with theatre releases.

“If we’re going to tell a story like this with this cast, the goal is to have as many people around the world have access to it,” Lassiter, who produced the film alongside Jay-Z, said.

“And sometimes when you do a theatrical release there are these built-in biases like, ‘No one wants to see an all-Black cast.’ I know for a fact that’s not true but in certain territories around the world they will tell studios ‘this movie is not for us.’ And they’re not really in-tuned with how the young generation feels,” he said.

“So what Netflix allows is around the world, everyone has access to it, and we will have as many people as possible see the movie and that was the goal.”

The Harder They Fall follows an African American cowboy and former slave on his quest to avenge his parents’ unjust deaths. It stars an all-black main cast including Jonathan Majors, Regina King and Idris Elba.

The concept of transitioning a movie so quickly from theatres to Netflix is interesting – and extremely rare. Usually, licensing issues are involved and it takes around a year before a movie appears in the streaming catalogue.

Though the actors won’t be promoting The Harder They Fall at theatres across the world, the movie did have a glam premiere at London Film Festival on Wednesday, October 7th, 2021.

For more on this topic, follow the Film & TV Observer.

Watch the Netflix trailer for The Harder They Fall