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SYFY WIRE Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder’s 'Army of the Dead' zombie-walking to theaters a week ahead of Netflix premiere

By Benjamin Bullard

Why wait for the post-apocalypse when you can jump-start it just by heading to the movies? Netflix and Cinemark Holdings, Inc. are conspiring to unleash Zack Snyder's new Dave Bautista-starring zombie movie early, with a nationwide premiere that’ll put Army of the Dead in theaters a full week before it invades Netflix.

Cinemark announced the early premiere for all of its Cinemark XD and Digital Cinema auditoriums at U.S. locations, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy Snyder’s epic zombie heist in glorious full-scale detail before heading home and firing up Netflix — where you can watch it all over again. The big-screen experience kicks off on Friday, May 14 — one week before the film, zombie tiger and all, takes a brains-starved bite out of your Netflix couch time.

It’s not the first time a Netflix feature has gotten the early-release treatment via the big screen, and Cinemark is teasing it likely won’t be the last.

“Following the success of our limited-run in-theater tests with Cinemark for films like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Midnight Sky, and The Christmas Chronicles 2, we are looking forward to the wider theatrical release of Army of the Dead,” Netflix head of distribution Spencer Klein said in a joint press release with Cinemark. For the movie theater chain, Army of the Dead marks the first Netflix crossover onto its Cinemark XD and Digital Cinema-equipped screens — but the company added it expects there will be “more to come.”

Snyder’s Ocean's Eleven-style heist tweaks the classic “one last score” team-up formula by setting the action smack in the middle of Las Vegas’ zombie-infested wasteland…though in this urban undead hellscape, not all the monsters are mindless. “Alpha” zombies — complete with names like Zeus (Richard Cetrone) and Valentine (the Carole-Baskin-inspired zombie tiger in the clip above) — are a cut above your typical cannon fodder, capable of thinking, organizing, giving orders, and absorbing the kind of full-scale abuse that leaves lesser zombies writhing in the dust.

It’ll be more than enough to put a wrinkle in our heroes’ ambitious plan to burrow beneath The Strip and steal away with the movie’s big MacGuffin: a life-changing amount of moolah, the kind of one-time smash-and-grab that promises to set Bautista's Scott Ward and his ragtag team of aspiring, heavily-armed larcenists up for life.

Army of the Dead also stars Hiroyuki Sanada (gang leader Bly Tanaka), Ella Purnell (Scott’s daughter Kate), Huma S. Qureshi (Geeta, a mom who’s gone M.I.A.), Tig Notaro (pilot Marianne Peters), Ana de la Reguera (mechanic Maria Cruz), Garret Dillahunt (casino security pro Martin), Matthias Schweighöfer (ace safe-cracker Dieter), Omari Hardwick (sworn zombie-hater Vanderohe), and tons more in an ensemble cast.

Call us crazy, but we’ve got a hunch their plan may not go off quite as smoothly as Bly makes it sound in the setup above. The only way to know for sure is to be there when the shambling starts, and it starts in theaters May 14, when Army of the Dead stalks onto Cinemark screens across the U.S, a week before it hits Netflix May 21.