Coronavirus is causing a whole lot of restructuring in society in general. Some unplanned, some that everyone of us was dithering on for a while. One such example is of movie studios who have been planning to release movies for home viewing on the same day as the release in cinema halls. But that never really went beyond the contemplation and planning stage. Now however, with cinema halls shut in most countries around the world and people refraining from stepping out of their homes to stay protected from the fast spreading Coronavirus, movie studios are responding. NBCUniversal says they will be relying heavily on streaming apps and over the top (OTT) video streaming platforms to help them release movies for home viewing on the same day as the cinematic release is lined up. And that starts this Friday, with Universal Pictures’ The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma and eventually DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour movies which are currently in theatrical release, will be available on a variety of streaming apps to rent.
Universal says that these will be available for a 48-hour rental period at a time, for a price of $19.99 in the US and an equivalent converted price in local currencies around the world. “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,” says Jeff Shell, CEO, NBCUniversal
While NBCUniversal says that these movie titles will be available on platforms of sister companies Comcast and Sky as well as a “broad range of on-demand partners”, we still don’t know who these partners are. Though time will reveal those details, one would believe Apple with the iTunes Store and Google’s Play Movies platforms are primed for rental options. We may also see the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix as well as Disney+ Hotstar jump into the fray, but these platforms do not have the rental options as of now.