Red Eye Chicago
Amid pandemic, Universal to put its new movies online
Universal Pictures, in a bold move to confront the coronavirus’s threat to the movie industry, is collapsing the theatrical window.
In an extraordinary step, the studio this week said it will make its movies available in the home on the same day as their global theatrical releases, 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, starting with “The Invisible Man,” “The Hunt” and “Emma.”
The movies will be available on a wide variety of on-demand services, including iTunes and Google Play for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99.
The decision is a radical departure from the longtime industry practice of waiting 90 days between a movie’s release in theaters and when it is available for home viewing. Theaters have long resisted collapsing the so-called theatrical window, fearing it would undermine their business by discouraging consumers from going to the multiplex.
But the coronavirus pandemic has led to the shutdown of theaters and forced studios to reconsider their strategy for distributing movies.
“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 NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff 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.”