NBCUniversal today announced that Universal Pictures will make its movies available as $19.99 iTunes rentals of films still in theaters on the same day as their global theatrical releases, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
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, March 20. Titles from Universal and its specialty label Focus Features, including The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma, will be available on a wide variety of the most popular on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets. The announcement was made by Jeff Shell, CEO, NBCUniversal.
Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters. NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes.
“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,” said Shell in a statement. “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.”
The Trolls World Tour‘s day-and-date release will be concurrent with Trolls World Tour’s local theatrical release date in each international market where available.
MacDailyNews Take: Rentals of films still in theaters is potentially another nail in to coffin for movie theaters as we could see this temporary release method easily becoming permanent. COVID-19 is going to change the way we do many things; it marks a paradigm shift.