Those who didn't get the chance to catch Sonic the Hedgehog in theaters won't have to wait much longer to watch it from the comfort of home. Paramount Pictures has announced that the blockbuster video game adaptation will be arriving on Digital HD early, either to rent or purchase, starting on Tuesday, March 31. This joins a growing list of Hollywood movies that are releasing early as theaters all around the world are closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paramount made the announcement recently, making Sonic the Hedgehog available on VOD just 46 days after it first hit theaters. The move makes a great deal of financial sense, with every major theater chain in the U.S. shutting its doors in the past week for the time being. Be that as it may, it serves as another major shake-up to the traditional, exclusive theatrical window movie theaters have enjoyed for years now. Typically speaking, a movie won't arrive on digital until nearly three months after it first hit theaters. But extenuating circumstances have led an increasing number of studios to experiment with early digital releases to help bring in some much-needed revenue.

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Universal Pictures was the first to break down this barrier with The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma, all very recent theatrical releases that were still playing in theaters ahead of the shutdown, being made available as of today to rent online for $19.99. Trolls: World Tour will also be available to rent next month. Other studios have followed suit, with Disney releasing Onward to rent today ahead of a sooner-than-expected Disney+ debut next month. Warner Bros. has Birds of Prey, The Way Back and The Gentlemen arriving on March 24, with Sony's Bloodshot and Robert Downey Jr.'s Dolittle arriving that day as well. Lionsgate's faith-based drama I Still Believe is slated for March 27.

Sonic the Hedgehog, which stars James Marsden, Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, had proved to be a big hit at the box office before movie theaters closed their doors. The adaptation of the classic Sega video game series grossed more than $306 million globally and recently passed Detective Pikachu as the highest-grossing video game adaptation at the domestic box office, with $146 million. With that in mind, Paramount stands to gain a lot from an already successful venture by giving people something to watch while they're cooped up at home during this period of self-isolation and social distancing.

The question right now is, will these early digital releases be a temporary measure? Or will this be something that studios try and stick to once things return to normal? Theater chains such as AMC have battled against this for years, arguing it could hurt attendance. Unfortunately, now that the precedent has been set, it may prove difficult to fully turn the ship around. For those who are still interested in getting a physical copy of the movie, Sonic the Hedgehog is arriving on Blu-ray/DVD and 4K Ultra HD on May 19. This news arrives from Variety.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott