UPDATE: Netflix has announced that Now and Then will finally be available to stream on the platform on August 1. A tweet posted to their account on Tuesday afternoon read: "Grab your bikes and find your best friends because "Now and Then" will be available to stream on Netflix US starting August 1."
Though the iconic coming of age movie was originally panned by critics, it was a seminal work in the lives of many young women in the early '90s. Now, a new generation will get to discover its delights.
Original story follows.
Not to be a downer, but should you be in the mood to revisit the 1995 seminal coming of age classic Now and Then, you’ll need a DVD player.
The movie, which stars Gaby Hoffmann, Thora Birch, Ashleigh Aston Moore and Christina Ricci alongside their grown-up counterparts Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith, Rita Wilson, and Rosie O’Donnell isn’t available to stream. Not anywhere. Not on Netflix, not on Hulu, not on Amazon Prime Video. It’s not available to rent or purchase on iTunes. The only way to watch is to buy the physical DVD on Amazon for $9.99. (Not to be confused with Blu-Ray; the film hasn’t yet been deemed worthy of that technological upgrade.)
Even director Lesli Linka Glatter, and Pretty Little Liars creator I.Marlene King, who wrote the screenplay, were shocked.
“I just assumed it was out there in the world,” Glatter said in an interview with Refinery29. “I had no idea. That’s disappointing.”
“People in management positions or executive positions at the studios don't realize what a cultural phenomenon that movie was and what an impact it's made on young women,” King said.
A representative for Warner Bros, the parent company for New Line Cinema, which released the film, confirmed via email that Now and Then is not cleared for digital distribution, reiterating that “it is available for sale on DVD at multiple retailers.” Which would be fantastic, were this 2003 and not 2018.
Hulu confirmed that the film had never been available on the platform, although the company “can’t speak to any future programming plans or deal news.” Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.
In fact, King said that she and Glatter, who directed the Pretty Little Liars pilot in 2007, fondly refer to the hugely popular Freeform show as a “grown up Now and Then.”
“When I first met the actresses who played Pretty Little Liars, and they found out I wrote [Now and Then], they were all quoting the movie to me,” King said.
That’s no surprise. Now and Then was an essential part of every single slumber party I threw or attended throughout my pre-teen years. Much like Sex and the City, everyone in my friend group had a character they associated with. (I was a Samantha — not the Kim Cattrall version, but the introverted and nerdy 12-year-old portrayed by Hoffmann.) And I’m not alone.
“It’s about the incident in your life that happens, that one summer that changes your life forever and you will never be the same again,” Glatter said. “Every girl I talk to seems to have a character they see themselves in.”
The story focuses around a group of four friends, Roberta (Ricci and O’Donnell), Teeny (Birch and Griffith), Chrissy (Aston Moore and Wilson) and Samantha (Hoffmann and Moore), who have vowed to always be there for each other. As the title indicates, the movie takes place in two timelines, the present, when the four are grown women reunited for the birth of Chrissy’s first child, and the summer of 1971, a pivotal year in all their lives. It’s the year they bought a treehouse at Sears; the year they discovered boys, and started to explore their own passions and interests; the year Samantha’s parents got divorced. It’s the year of “Dear Johnny” and Crazy Pete, the town weirdo who, they find out, is really guarding a tragic secret.
King based the story on her own sixth grade year, which she spent riding her bike and telling ghost stories in the local cemetery. Asked about the characters, she said: “They're all a little bit of me but they're also a little bit my sister and my three best friends who I grew up with.”
Now and Then stands out because it was written, produced, and directed by women in the mid-90s, a time when the Hollywood glass ceiling was practically bulletproof. As a result, it addressed some of the difficult aspects of girlhood in a way few movies had up to that point. Both Glatter and King will speak at an upcoming viewing of the film at Cinespia, a series of screenings held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, and according to them, the response has been overwhelming.
“I have stories of moms who are sharing it with their daughters now, so it's become sort of this multigenerational milestone, which I couldn't be more happy about,” King said. “I love what it says about friendship, and it really models how I think young girls should treat each other.”
But don’t despair if you can’t fly out to L.A. for the September 2 screening. According to King, a sequel isn’t out of the question.
“I just had a conversation with Susanna and Jennifer Todd, the producers, a couple of weeks ago where we were talking about how could we make sort of the modern day Now and Then,” King said. “So, we are talking about it.”
And while she stressed that absolutely nothing has been greenlit or finalized at this point, King did share that [she] “would love to find a way to do it.”
“I think we came up with some ideas, which I don't want to spill the beans on, but a great way to sort of flip it a little bit where we're true to the original characters, and exploring new characters, too.”
As for the original, Glatter hopes that it will continue to have an impact — assuming young women can actually find a way to watch it.
“I hope they can look at it and see themselves in it, and know that growing up isn't easy for anyone,” she said. “One gets through it and becomes the person that they are. There are moments to cherish in that, and those friendships are there to cherish. And I think anytime you can see yourself [reflected] on people — [it’s] a powerful thing.”