Forget Theaters: NBCUniversal Is Releasing Its Latest Movies Directly to On-Demand Channels

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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.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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