One Of 2020’s Most-Anticipated Horror Movies Is Going Straight To VOD


The trend for bypassing theatrical releases and going straight to PVOD has now extended to horror movie Antebellum. The Lionsgate picture was originally scheduled to arrive in cinemas in April, before being pushed back to August. However, the studio have now decided to put the flick online this September 18th, while only releasing the film theatrically in select international markets.

Directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, Antebellum is one of the most-anticipated horror pics of the year and stars Janelle Monáe as an author who finds herself transported back in time to the American Slavery period, and has to fight to return to the present. Antebellum was building some buzz recently after putting out an impressive trailer, before being derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bush and Renz commented on the decision to jump to PVOD as so:

“While we designed Antebellum to be consumed as a communal experience in the theater, we are thrilled by the unique opportunity we have to pivot to a different kind of communal moment in our culture. As we face the realities of systemic racism in our country, which have crescendoed to this current inflection point in 2020, we understand how imperative it is to bring Antebellum to the broadest audience possible, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is our ardent hope that by sharing our film widely, both nationally and internationally, we will transform the moviegoing experience from home into a true event.”


It’s a shame, then, that Antebellum won’t be getting a theatrical release, although it will now potentially reach a much larger audience on PVOD. The timeliness of the story in 2020, with the Black Lives Matter protests continuing to highlight the deep well of racism in the United States, should also hopefully be supported by the substance of the film. If this is the case, then Antebellum could be another hit in the vein of Get Out or Us.

Antebellum joins a growing list of titles that are now largely bypassing theaters, with the most notable recent example being Disney’s Mulan. When added to the tensions between major theater chains and studios over streaming windows, Lionsgate’s apparent decision to completely drop the US theatrical release for Antebellum will do little to ease worries for brick-and-mortar cinemas.

While Antebellum was unlikely to achieve the same box office success as Mulan, or even appear in as many theaters, it almost certainly won’t be the last film to adopt the same PVOD strategy this year. Without a tenable theatrical release strategy, the studios may find it difficult to resist switching to digital debuts, at least for the foreseeable future. Indeed, decisions over delayed releases like Black Widow may well now rely on the performance of Mulan on Disney Plus, which could open the door to making other 2020 titles available before the end of the year.