Image: DreamWorks Animation/Universal Pictures

Movie theaters around the world are shutting down due to COVID-19, but that isn’t stopping NBCUniversal from giving film-goers what they crave. The media giant has announced that Universal Pictures’s upcoming slate (e.g., Trolls World Tour) will be available on digital the very same day they hit theaters. This also applies to films that have already hit cinemas, such as The Invisible Man.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell made the announcement today, which includes availability and pricing details:

Beginning with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour (opening April 10 in the U.S.) the company will also make movies that are currently in theatrical release available on-demand starting as early as Friday, March 20. Titles from Universal and its specialty label Focus Features, including The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma, will be available on a wide variety of the most popular on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets.

“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 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.”

The results of this experiment could have unprecedented results for the film and theater industries. A lot of folks wish they could skip the cinema and watch the newest releases from the comfort of their own home – and that’s starting to look like a potential reality, at least for the immediate future.

Regal has actually announced that it would be shutting down all of its theaters tomorrow. The chain doesn’t know when they’ll re-open.

Don’t Miss Out on More FPS Review Content!

Our weekly newsletter includes a recap of our reviews and a run down of the most popular tech news that we published.

Join the Conversation

10 Comments

  1. This could spell trou le for traditional theaters goo g forward…. At least in urban areas.

  2. This could be the start of 1st run movies at home if studios decide to continue the trend after the CV scene calms down. I for one would be thrilled to never have to set foot in a movie theater again. But I know other people that insist on the big screen experience… or just want to get out of the house. All I know is I spent $30 on a Saturday matinee for 2 people to see 1917… they should hand out free blu-rays of the movie at that cost. Movie theaters are such a gigantic ripoff that I only go to maybe 1 or 2 movies a year. When you can buy fairly decent 70″ TV for a grand… why drop $30-50 on movie night? And my house has cocktails and a pause button for bathroom breaks.

  3. I remember polls being made that indicated people wanted dvds to go same time with theaters. Didn’t get why no one tried it.

  4. My wife and I went to go see the whatever year anniversary of “When Harry Met Sally” in a limited showing here in town. There were like 4 couples total in the seats .. it was pretty nice, lol. But generally I’ll wait to watch whatever at home ..

  5. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 11044, member: 215″]
    This could spell trou le for traditional theaters goo g forward…. At least in urban areas.
    [/QUOTE]
    I’m not sure I agree completely with that. Onward is available and was immediately available on the torrents. If a movie can at least spend some time in the theaters, they should keep sales. If they go direct to homes, they better step up the anti piracy game or it’ll be an even worse scenario for lost revenue

  6. I would still take the kids to the theater at least annually as long as something good played. They can do first run to home and just rotate the theater lineup. (Older flicks too) It’s a fun outing that we all enjoy. Like going to a baseball game, the ticket price isn’t all you’ll spend. It’s more fun (for me at least) to just go “all in” occasionally instead of do it cheap all the time.

    as for movies for me? This seems like a nail in the coffin for theaters. I’m just as fine watching upscaled 720p because whatever…lol. I remember watching bootleg vhs movies as a kid so I can totally ignore quality imperfections of watching stuff at home.

  7. I don’t normally go to the theater myself much anymore. If there is some thing me and the Mrs. agree on seeing then maybe. Otherwise we wait to watch at home.

  8. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 11114, member: 397″]
    I remember polls being made that indicated people wanted dvds to go same time with theaters. Didn’t get why no one tried it.
    [/QUOTE]

    I’m sure AMC / Cinemark / etc would throw a fit about it. Sadly they have a huge amount of influence on the industry. Somehow even at $15 for a matinee ticket they don’t make enough money, so they want to sell us $10 soda and candy too (which I refuse to buy).

  9. [QUOTE=”stickx911, post: 11213, member: 294″]
    I would still take the kids to the theater at least annually as long as something good played. They can do first run to home and just rotate the theater lineup. (Older flicks too) It’s a fun outing that we all enjoy. Like going to a baseball game, the ticket price isn’t all you’ll spend. It’s more fun (for me at least) to just go “all in” occasionally instead of do it cheap all the time.

    as for movies for me? This seems like a nail in the coffin for theaters. I’m just as fine watching upscaled 720p because whatever…lol. I remember watching bootleg vhs movies as a kid so I can totally ignore quality imperfections of watching stuff at home.
    [/QUOTE]

    Would be fine if it wasn’t stupidly expensive. Dollar / discount theaters used to be a big thing for date night (when I was broke), but they have all vanished near us. Cinemark “upgraded” the last one I knew about anywhere near us to be a first run theater not long ago.

  10. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 11230, member: 297″]
    I’m sure AMC / Cinemark / etc would throw a fit about it. Sadly they have a huge amount of influence on the industry. Somehow even at $15 for a matinee ticket they don’t make enough money, so they want to sell us $10 soda and candy too (which I refuse to buy).
    [/QUOTE]
    Having worked in this industry, I can say most production companies claim a significant portion or all of the ticket money. The bigger the company (disney?), the worse the deal. Some will demand 100% for the first x weeks. Depending on the movie. Remember the big stink over the last jedi stuff? That’s only slightly worse than normal.

    That said. The concessions are all extremely high margin stuff, and they pay employees the bare minimum so don’t feel bad for them. Just don’t think the ticket price means jack to Cinemark.

Leave a comment