Since you can’t go to the movies, Hollywood is scrambling to figure out how to bring its movies to you, even if it means upending deeply entrenched business models. With theaters across the globe shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Universal Pictures will be among the first to jump into the breach, taking the unprecedented step of making three of its current releases available for at-home viewing starting March 20.
The Elisabeth Moss horror film “The Invisible Man,” the satirical thriller “The Hunt” and Focus Features’ period dramedy “Emma” will all be available to watch on a wide variety of on-demand platforms starting Friday, at a suggested price of $19.99 for a 48-hour viewing window. Following shortly behind, the DreamWorks animated sequel “Trolls World Tour” will be available on VOD on April 10, the same day as it was slated to be released in theaters (although which theaters may even be open remains a major question).
Even as a number of major upcoming releases shift back their openings to avoid certain box-office doom — including Disney’s “Black Widow” and “Mulan,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Universal’s “F9" — you can expect to see more studios look for ways to shorten, if not shatter, the once-sacrosanct theatrical window.
Warner Bros. announced Tuesday that its DC antihero movie, “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” will be released for digital purchase Tuesday, March 24, just 6 1/2 weeks after the film’s theatrical debut. Then they doubled down, adding the Ben Affleck sobriety drama “The Way Back” to the VOD line-up on the same day, just 2 1/2 weeks after it opened.
And Sony’s “Bloodshot” and Lionsgate’s “I Still Believe” — which, like “The Hunt” opened just last week as the coronavirus threat decimated the weekend box office — will also turn up on VOD beginning March 24 and Friday, March 27, respectively.
Under the hastily worked-out deals struck by Universal and their partners, prices for “The Invisible Man,” “The Hunt” and “Emma” may vary slightly by platform. But by the studio’s estimation, through one service or another, the films will be available to roughly 95% of customers nationwide.
Here are the on-demand services that will offer the three movies: