A new film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, better known as the Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski), just premiered at the Venice Film Festival in competition. Distributed by Netflix, the movie is a western titled The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and is an anthology, tying together a collection of short stories.
The script for the film was began more than 25 years ago, according to the filmmakers. The two have been gradually compiling stories for the project over the years and eventually decided to create an anthology television series for the project with Netflix, though that series ultimately became a movie.
There has been some controversy around the eligibility of Netflix original films on the movie-award circuit, as many prestigious award ceremonies require a theatrical run for consideration. Netflix films generally skip theaters and go directly to the company’s streaming platform.
While speaking with reporters at the Venice Film Festival, the Coens surprised many when they announced that The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will, in fact, have a theatrical release, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Ethan Coen didn’t mince words in explaining that a theatrical release was a big priority for the pair of Academy-Award-winning filmmakers.
“A theatrical release was important to us, but they were happy to accommodate us. That might have been their plan from the beginning. It’s getting a theatrical release in the U.S. That’s great.”
Ethan’s brother and longtime-collaborator, Joel Coen, reportedly made mention that he likes the way Netflix has been shaking things up within the movie industry.
“The fact there are companies that are financing and making movies outside of the mainstream is very important, it keeps the art form alive.”
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs reportedly crosses into many sub-genres of western films, including the concept of the “singing cowboy” and spaghetti westerns. The upcoming movie also touts an impressive cast, with names such as Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tim Blake Nelson, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson.
The Coen brothers made their feature film debut in the 1984 neo-noir crime movie Blood Simple. With its dark, dry sense of humor and ever-changing tone, Blood Simple set the stage for other Coen brothers movie classics to follow, such as Fargo, Barton Fink, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, and A Serious Man.