Lionsgate has announced that the horror/thriller Antebellum will be skipping theaters in the U.S. in favor of a premium on-demand offering. The movie stars Janelle Monae in the lead role and is directed by filmmakers Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. It will be debuting on all digital platforms starting September 18. The movie will still be released theatrically in select international markets. This mirrors the strategy Disney is taking with Mulan, which was announced recently.

It was not revealed, at this time, what Lionsgate will be charging for Antebellum. However, most premium VOD offerings thus far have gone for around $20. The trend kicked off earlier in the year after theaters closed down, with Universal offering Trolls World Tour digitally, opting to skip theaters in favor of bringing in some much-needed money now. Joe Drake, Chairman, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, had this to say.

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"While the theatrical experience will always be the heart of our business, we are thrilled that we are able to seize the opportunity to match Gerard and Chris's urgent and immediate film with a release strategy befitting this moment of extraordinary change. Gerard and Chris are storytellers whose work beats with authenticity, not only will this film entertain and thrill audiences worldwide, but spark a discussion about our current world."

With theaters closed, studios have struggled to make up lost box office revenue. While moving movies like this to VOD will hurt theaters in the short term, studios need to make money somehow. Disney choosing to release Mulan on Disney+ for $30, while also releasing it in theaters where it is possible to do so outside of the U.S., is prompting other companies to do the same. Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz had this to say about it.

"While we designed Antebellum to be consumed as a communal experience in the theater, we are thrilled by the unique opportunity we have to pivot to a different kind of communal moment in our culture. As we face the realities of systemic racism in our country, which have crescendoed to this current inflection point in 2020, we understand how imperative it is to bring Antebellum to the broadest audience possible, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is our ardent hope that by sharing our film widely, both nationally and internationally, we will transform the moviegoing experience from home into a true event."

Antebellum centers on a successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monae) who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality that forces her to confront the past, present and future, before it's too late. QC Entertainment, producer of Get Out and BlacKkKlansman is behind the movie. Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Zev Foreman, Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz and Lezlie Wills are on board as producers.

Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe, Marque Richardson, Robert Aramayo, Lily Cowles and Tongayi Chirisa also star. In addition to directing, Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz penned the screenplay. Antebellum arrives on September 18 from Lionsgate.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott