In a bold move to combat a plunge in box office revenues due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Universal Pictures will start streaming movies currently available in theaters to viewers at home.
Starting Friday, films currently playing in theaters – the Elizabeth Moss thriller The Invisible Man, the satirical thriller The Hunt and period comedy Emma – will all be available on demand via Comcast and Sky for a 48 hour, $19.99 rental period. The films will also be available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime and FandangoNow.
The DreamWorks Animation film Trolls World Tour will be the first new release that will be available on demand on April 10th. The film, starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, is the sequel to the 2016’s Trolls.
Universal’s decision is a radical departure from the movie industry practice of waiting 90 days between a movie’s release in theaters and availability for home viewing. Movie theaters recently started closing across the United States, following theater closures in numerous countries around the globe to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Movie ticket sales in the United States and Canada this past weekend were $55.3 million – the weakest box office weekend in more than two decades.
On Sunday, Disney+ made Frozen II available for streaming on its platform three months earlier than previously planned.