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Annihilation director Alex Garland says film's early international release on Netflix is a 'disappointment'

Contributed by
Dec 13, 2017

The trailer for the new sci-fi film Annihilation (based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer) has arrived, and writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Dredd) is shedding more light on his adaptation. To paraphrase words from the trailer itself, he's not destroying... he's making something new. 

Speaking with Collider, Garland revealed how the film — which stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac, and Tessa Thompson — will differ from the book. Whereas some of his previous adaptations have been very faithful to their source material (in the case of Dredd, faithful to the character), Annihilation, he said, "is probably more of a free-for-all. It’s a very dreamlike, very beautiful novel, and it worked well for my purposes."

He is also aware of the fact that this is only the first book in a trilogy, and that the other two books have recently become available.

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"When I wrote this, I knew there was going to be a trilogy, but I hadn’t read the other two books. They hadn’t been written, so I saw this as a contained thing," Garland said. "I had the intention of completing the story." If anyone is hoping for an Annihilation film trilogy, they may be out of luck, because Garland reiterates that he is "more interested in contained stories."

He also weighed in on the unconventional deal to release the film on Netflix internationally a little more than two weeks after it hits theaters stateside, saying the development was a "disappointment." 

"We made the film for cinema," he explained. "I’ve got no problem with the small screen at all... I think there’s incredible potential within that context, but if you’re doing that — you make it for that [medium], and you think of it in those terms." According to reports, producer disagreements — including a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war on how the movie should have ended — led to a stalemate that ultimately pushed the film's studio, Paramount, to cut the unconventional distribution deal with Netflix in order to help defray costs.

Ultimately, Garland is promising what sounds like a sci-fi film of the highest order, wanting to do something truly "alien" that will "start in suburbia and end in psychedelia."

Annihilation opens in U.S. theaters on Feb. 23, 2018.