It seems like it was just yesterday that reports of coronavirus first appeared across headlines, yet we’ve found ourselves in a global pandemic just a few weeks later. The majority of businesses, schools, and public events have been canceled, but how exactly is the film industry coping with the crisis?
Major movie productions have been suspended across the globe including The Batman, Red Notice, the sequels to Avatar, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Rings, Jurassic World: Dominion, and countless others.
With the outbreak quickly spreading, local movie theaters are bound to close their doors sooner than later. As society retreats indoors to self-quarantine and stay healthy, Universal Pictures’ announced their decision to provide a home video release of their current theatrical movies. Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal stated, “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.”
Regal Cinemas Closed; Photo from Reuters
As soon as March 20th, The Hunt, Emma, and The Invisible Man will be available to rent through iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and FandangoNow. Moving forward, select Universal movies will become available through video on demand (VOD) the same day as their theatrical release date.
The decision was made soon after Disney revealed Frozen 2 would debut on Disney+ on March 15th, three full months ahead of schedule in an effort to bring entertainment to homebound viewers.
Warner Brothers quickly followed in their footsteps and announced the digital release of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn on March 24th.
This solution has many wondering if this temporary change will permanently impact TV and film in the future. It’s no secret that the majority of consumers have moved away from traditional theaters and turned to streaming services; now, they can experience the convenience of viewing new releases directly in their own home. Additionally, film studios will have the opportunity to prove how much they can profit from early digital releases without pushback.
Despite speculation, movie theaters have played a valuable role within cinema and for this reason, major studios have postponed certain release dates altogether. For example, Walt Disney Co. has delayed the release of Mulan and the future release of Black Widow, The Personal History of David Copperfield, and The Woman in the Window. Universal Pictures has also delayed the release of F9 (also known as Fast and Furious 9) until further notice.
While there’s no telling when life will return to normal, I think I can speak for the majority when I say I am thankful that the entertainment industry is working to accommodate consumers during this difficult time. Film is a great way to escape the dreadful feeling of “cabin fever” and we can now experience VOD like we have never before. As we begin to practice social distancing, what new releases do you plan to take advantage of?