In an effort to adjust to the impact the coronavirus has had on the movie industry, Universal Pictures will make some of its films currently out in theaters available on-demand for a 48-hour rental that will set you back $19.99. These will include The Invisible Man, which released Feb. 28, the brand-new The Hunt, and Emma, which hit Feb. 21.
Those are set to hit on-demand on Friday.
Another film that will be impacted in the very near future is Trolls World Tour. Deadline reports that the animated sequel was supposed to be the first theatrical comback title to signify a return to normalcy in theaters. But, safe to say from any newsfeed you regularly check, shit is officially out of control. As a result that movie, which was slated for an April 10 release under normal circumstances, will now adapt by going "day-and-date in homes and on the big-screen."
Deadline notes that Dolittle will not be extended into the on-demand family and instead will go along with the theater-to-home purchase route as originally scheduled. We sure as hell like Robert Downey Jr. around these parts, but judging by critical and audience receptions to that movie that's not a very big deal.
You don't need a business degree to understand that NBCUni is trying to adjust by allowing the masses shut inside their dwellings to watch big flicks from their homes. “NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes,” they said in a statement this morning.
Just like every other industry dealing with challenges presented by the coronavirus, this theater-to-on-demand policy is unclear beyond Trolls World Tour. Decisions for releases after that will be decided upon and publicized at a later date.
“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. 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,” said the CEO of NBCUniversal, Jeff Shell. “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.”
On Monday, it was also announced that Warner Bros.'s Birds of Prey will receive an early VOD release, Variety reported. The film, which stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and others, will now be available to purchase starting on March 24. The Cathy Yan-directed film is expected to be available to rent in April and hit theaters back in February.
The Gentlemen is also receiving a March 24 VOD release date, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Over the past weekend the domestic box office brought in just $55.3 million. That's a 22-year low for any weekend in the U.S. More than 100 cinemas were closed, and the immediate future looks ever bleaker on that front, as Los Angeles and New York City are both requiring that their theaters shut down this week.