The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of Hollywood, from production schedules and release dates all the way down to the entertainment news cycle (you'll note that we haven't exactly been awash in new trailers or film announcements lately). In the weeks and months ahead, we're probably going to see the entertainment landscape change and grow in a number of unexpected (and not so unexpected) ways, particularly in regards to streaming.
Today, Universal announced that it will make several of its current releases available to rent via streaming platforms far earlier than anticipated, sometimes as day-and-date releases. That's right - if you were chomping at the bit to see Dreamworks Animation's Trolls World Tour on April 10th, you'll now be able to rent it in the privacy of your own home. No need to leave the house, no need to let others know you are interested in seeing Trolls World Tour. Other films, meanwhile (including Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man, Craig Zobel's The Hunt and Autumn de Wilde's Emma) will be available to rent on Friday, March 20th.
"The films will be available for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and for roughly the same price in international markets. The announcement is a blow to movie theaters, which have long resisted any attempts to shorten the amount of time that movies are available exclusively on the big screen."
Hollywood's been struggling with the day-and-date release issue for some time now. Theater owners, as you might imagine, have never been thrilled about the idea, but current circumstances seem to have forced the issue. It will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit, and, if so, which titles get selected for this treatment. Says NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell:
“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. 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.”
Wild times. Big moves. And this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more on the ever-evolving world we live in as further updates roll in (and do rent The Invisible Man if you haven't already seen it; that movie whips a substantial amount of ass), keep washing your hands to an absolutely obsessive degree, and do try to minimize your contact with, y'know, any other people right now. It can't hurt.