With movie theaters closing across the country due to the coronavirus, Universal Pictures has taken the first plunge into immediately shuffling its current slate of theatrical releases, as well as the upcoming Trolls: World Tour, to streaming for home entertainment beginning this month.
Trolls World Tour, from DreamWorks Animation, which was is scheduled to debut in theaters April 10, will now also bow on home entertainment on the same date. Universal is also making its films that are currently in theaters, including The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma (through Universal’s indie leg Focus Features), available on-demand starting as early as Friday, March 20. The films will be available for a 48-hour rental period for $19.99 in the U.S. Last week, Universal moved off the 9th Fast and Furious movie to 2021, so that will not be on the upcoming streaming catalog.
“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,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said 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.”
No word yet on other studios falling in line but with this weekend’s box office hitting a two-decade low, expect similar announcements in the coming days.