In another shakeup to the traditional theatrical movie window, Warner Bros. is making a pair of recent releases available early on VOD. Both Birds of Prey, the latest from DC Films which sees Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn, as well as director Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen, will be available to purchase on March 24. The news was first reported by Fandango, who shared the news in a tweet,
"Birds of Prey and The Gentlemen are moving up their VOD dates to 3/24. You can preorder them both at FandangoNOW and plan your next week's entertainment!"
Typically, movie theaters want a release to have nearly a three-month window before it is made available to purchase or rent, either through digital retailers or through physical media, such as Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD. In this case, Birds of Prey will be available just 46 days after its U.S. theatrical release on February 7. The Gentlemen is coming out 60 days after it hit theaters on January 24.
The move comes as movie theaters across the world, including all of AMC, Regal and the Alamo Drafthouse in the U.S., have had to close their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. This has forced studios to push back many theatrical releases, causing hundreds of millions in losses. Releasing these movies on VOD at a time when people are cooped up at home could prove to be a financial win. Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan supported the move on Twitter, initially saying that she wouldn't be opposed to making the movie available early. Once the news was made official, Yan tweeted the following.
"Woohoo! Birds of Prey will in fact be available for digital rental on March 24! Thanks to all the fans and supporters out there. I'm just happy people will be able to enjoy new and fun movies right now."
This also comes just after Universal Pictures made an unprecedented move. The studio is releasing The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma, all of which were recently released in theaters, on digital retailers to rent for $19.99 starting Friday. Trolls: World Tour will also be available to rent soon. This is something theater chains have pushed against for years, as the option to rent a new release at home could negatively impact the box office. But with the box office essentially non-existent on a global scale right now, studios are having to get creative.
Birds of Prey was a critical success, but underperformed commercially up to this point, bringing in $199 million worldwide against a budget said to be in the $90 million range. The Gentlemen grossed $114 million, but had a much smaller budget in the neighborhood of $20 million. Disney similarly released Star Wars: The Rise of Skywwalker on VOD early, while dropping Frozen 2 on Disney+ months ahead of its planned streaming debut. This news comes to us via the Fandango Twitter account.