In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, film studios are releasing movies via on-demand streaming platforms on the same day as the films’ theatrical release dates across the globe.
Universal Pictures is one of the film companies leading the movement, with the release of DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour,” set to debut April 10 in the U.S. The company will follow on-demand releases with films that are currently in theaters, such as horror flicks “The Invisible Man” and “The Hunt,” along with the film adaptation of “Emma,” a Jane Austen novel. The movies will be available for $19.99 for a 48-hour rental period.
“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception,” says Jeff Shell, chief executive officer, NBCUniversal. “Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable. We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”
The decision follows announcements from multiple studios about delaying the release of films. Universal pushed back the “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9” back one year. Paramount’s “A Quiet Place 2,” Disney’s “Mulan” and MGM’s “No Time to Die,” a James Bond film, were shelved indefinitely as well.
Studios are also pushing forward the release dates for films currently in theaters. Warner Bros.’ “Birds of Prey” will be available for digital purchase on March 24, earlier than its initial release. Disney also recently announced it will release “Frozen 2” earlier for on-demand streaming as well.
The moves come after the domestic box office fell to a two-decade low last weekend. Movie theater chains limited ticket sales to decrease crowding and aid in social distancing efforts. Multiple theaters across the globe have now completely closed doors until further notice.