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With Movie Theater Shutdown, Universal Pictures to Stream New Release Films on Prime Video, iTunes, & More

Jason Gurwin

In light of the movie theaters being brought to a standstill, Universal Pictures is changing the game. The Comcast-owned studio will be making digital rentals of new release movies available for $19.99. The rental will be available for 48-hours once you start the film. Normally, films become available to rent 4-5 months after their theatrical release date.

“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.” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in a statement.

Starting on March 20th, some titles currently in theaters will be available for rent. Some of those include The Hunt (released March 13th), The Invisible Man (released February 28th), and Emma (released February 20th). However, the biggest news is that they will release DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour on-demand the same day it is released in theaters (April 10th).

“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.

This past weekend, saw the lowest box office gross in movies theaters in over 20 years. While Universal hasn’t committed to releasing titles the same day as they are theatrically for the rest of the year, it will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit. Some have already delayed releasing titles, like Disney’s “Mulan” and Universal’s blockbuster flick “Fast and the Furious 9”.

“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,” said the company.

Other studios have leveraged their streaming services. Disney+ released Frozen II on their streaming services three months ahead of their original late-June planned release.