Part of why “Evil Dead Rise” begs for the theatrical experience is that it was always intended to be a theatrically released film, at least when it came to the pre-production stages. “There’s a little bit more to the story than it seems,” Cronin explained, continuing:
“When I wrote the screenplay, all intention was that it was theatrical. No one was thinking any other way. But I wrote the screenplay at the start of Covid and the world was kind of closing and falling apart, and no one knew what was happening with theaters and the theatrical experience. Actually as we entered prep on the movie, we were still in the knowledge that it was going to be a theatrical release.”
The conversation to switch the premiere to streaming on HBO Max wouldn’t happen until much later, as Covid conditions took a turn for the worse. It’s not the best news to receive as a filmmaker that your film’s release format will be drastically different than initially planned, especially right before shooting. “But Covid got really bad at a point, and understandably, many studios were pivoting their approach to things,” Cronin explained. “So, it was kind of a little bit of surprising news, quite close to actually shooting the film, that it was going to go to HBO Max. And it rattled me for a moment because that was not how I was designing this movie in my head.”
It must have been tricky for a creative to learn right before production that a film intended for theaters would actually be getting a streaming release. Other directors may have had the impulse to scale down, rethink the initial vision, and make compromises. In Cronin’s case, he kept chugging along with hope and support from people who believed in his film.