Universal Pictures Moving Theatrical Releases To On-Demand Release Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

Looking to give fans more options at home, Universal is changing up how they release movies.

Actor Elisabeth Moss attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium.
Christopher Polk / Getty Images

Looking to give fans more options at home, Universal is changing up how they release movies.

The coronavirus outbreak is altering the lives of many people as it has taken them out of work, school, and even the public eye. With a lot of people being stuck at home, Universal Pictures has decided to do their part to help pass the time and continue to be an entertainer. On Monday, it was revealed that the studio will begin making theatrical releases available for viewing at home on-demand as soon as this Friday.

It is a huge move and a drastic change from what has been done for many years, but Universal Pictures is looking to help out. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that starting this Friday, March 20, three films still in theaters will be made available to those who wish to view them at home.

  • The Hunt
  • Emma
  • The Invisible Man

The three movies are going to be available for a 48-hour rental at a suggested retail price of $19.99. Some may find this to be a bit pricey, but a family of four going to the theater to see a movie would likely pay three or four times as much to watch one together.

Right now, many theaters across the world are keeping their door shuttered due to the outbreak of COVID-19. People aren’t allowed to go enjoy a film at their local theater, and this gives them a chance to do so while also breaking up the monotony of being stuck inside for what could be a lengthy period of time.

Universal Pictures is really shaking up the game, and it is being done for more than just the period during the outbreak. DreamWorks Animation will be releasing Trolls World Tour in theaters on April 10, but not everyone will have to travel out to see it.

On that very same day, it will be available on-demand for at-home viewing.

NBCUniversal CEO Jess Shell said that they wanted to “provide an option for people to view titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable.” Their hope is that patrons will still visit theaters to watch movies there, but they realize how that isn’t always possible for people around the world.

For a very long time, the common practice has been for studios to hold off on home releases for at least 90 days. That length of time was determined to be a good window for theaters to not interfere with their in-theater revenue, but Universal Pictures seems appears to say that won’t be a problem any longer.

It isn’t so much that people have stopped going to theaters, but numbers have been down at the box office due to the coronavirus threat. With studios temporarily having to cease production, it could harm them if fans can’t make it out to see a movie in theaters for a while. Disney made Frozen II available on its streaming service this past weekend, months earlier than originally planned. Now, Universal Studios has simply taken it a step further and is bringing the theater into your home.