Today, NBCUniversal announced that movies that were lined up to show in theaters will now be made available on-demand at the same time that they hit theaters still left open during the coronavirus pandemic.
This decision breaks the tradition of the typical 90 day period between films leaving theaters and becoming available to watch at home. With rules and guidelines now in place to limit public gathering to 50 or fewer people, it isn’t likely that films would draw the crowds studios would have otherwise hoped for. Making the films available online is a smart move by the studios to keep families safe while always keeping them entertained.
“Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters. 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,” the company said in a statement Monday.
Trolls World Tour will be the first movie to debut online and in theaters on April 10th, with other films being available on-demand as early as Friday. Universal’s The Hunt and The Invisible Man, and Focus Features’ Emma are among the additional titles.
“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 NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shellin the same statement. “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.”
Last week, Disney released Frozen 2 on Disney+ months ahead of schedule, followed by Vudu making Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker available to buy early. Hopefully, other studios will follow.
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