In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the havoc it has wreaked upon theater chains across the globe, Universal has announced plans to ship The Invisible Man and The Hunt – along with Focus Features period drama Emma – straight to VOD platforms this Friday, March 20th.
Deadline has the scoop, revealing that on-demand rentals will last 48 hours “at the suggested price of $19.99.” This applies both to domestic and offshore markets where each title was due to release, according to Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal.
Shell also acknowledged that, while he still hopes people will venture out to their local theaters, this small luxury has fast become impossible to moviegoers all across the globe, as governments of the world impose regulations and mandatory lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.
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. 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.
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Another Universal title affected by this bold new strategy is Dreamworks animation Trolls World Tour. It’ll still hit theaters on April 10th – Easter weekend, no less – but under new plans, it’ll also be released simultaneously via VOD platforms. This will no doubt apply on April 20th, too, when the Trolls sequel rolls out overseas.
There’s currently no mention of any other direct-to-VOD launch plans for Universal’s lineup – or indeed any other major Hollywood production – but this rollout will serve as a litmus test to studios hoping to maintain revenue streams in the wake of an unprecedented health crisis.