As theaters close over the coronavirus outbreak, Universal Pictures has announced it will be making movies available on-demand at the same time as their theatrical release.
Fresh off the news that theaters will be closing in New York City and Los Angeles, Universal Pictures will be combatting the hit to the market by making their movies available on-demand for viewers practicing social isolation and/or quarantine according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell made the announcement that movies will be made available on-demand for a 48-hour rental time period at the retail price of $19.99 in the United States, and the price equivalent internationally.
Titles impacted by this new policy include DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour which is set to release in theaters (and now on-demand) on April 10. Universal’s The Hunt and The Invisible Man, as well as Focus Features’ Emma, which are already in theatrical release, will also be made available on-demand this week.
“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,” Shell explained in a 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.”
It’s a bold move for the studio as many other movies have had their releases pushed back and production on many movies have been put on hold. Disney+ made a similar move by releasing Frozen 2 on their streaming service months ahead of schedule.
It is also unclear if this will continue to be their strategy and if any other studios will test out a similar method. “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 added in their statement.