Universal Pictures has announced that movies will be available to rent the day they’re released to theatres to help maintain demand during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Theatrical releases will coincide with an immediate rental option on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital platforms, according to a report in Deadline this morning (March 17).
Recent movie releases, like The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, will be available from Friday, March 20, and from then, new movies which are scheduled will be released online.
The suggested retail price for the rentals will be $19.99 in the United States, which is higher than standard rentals but is cheaper than paying for two tickets at most US movie theaters.
The studio’s next major release, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, will be released online on April 10 in the United States, the same day it’s scheduled for its cinematic release.
Over the weekend, the US box office reported a historic low, as consumers stayed indoors and some governments announced the closure of venues such as clubs and movie theaters.
Speaking of the news, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, said: “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 challenging 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.”
In a separate report from The Hollywood Reporter, Universal will only apply this rent-from-home rule to select movies, with some titles already postponed or excluded.
The entertainment world has gone into lockdown, with filming on many TV shows and movies canceled, talk shows filmed without a studio audience, concerts and broadway shows postponed, and Apple TV+ canceling production on its shows until further notice.
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