As public health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic grow, the film industry has undergone extreme changes to keep audiences safe, from closing theaters to delaying releases and dropping movies on streaming early.
The latest big step comes from Universal Pictures. The studio is set to make its movies available to watch at home on the same day as their global theatrical release, as well as making movies currently in theaters available on-demand early. The upcoming Trolls World Tour, which was set to hit theaters on April 10, will also be rentable on the same day. The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma., which are still in their theatrical runs, will be available on-demand beginning this Friday, March 20. Rentals, which will cost $19.99 in the U.S. and roughly the same in international markets, will last for 48 hours.
In a statement, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said, “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.”
The move brings into question how other major studios will act, as, thus far, no studios have made any hint that they will bring movies that haven’t yet hit theaters to streaming early. Rather, movies like The New Mutants, Mulan, and A Quiet Place 2 have been moved to later dates or delayed indefinitely, as it remains unclear just how long COVID-19 will be a concern.