Universal Pictures will release Trolls World Tour, The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma early on digital platforms. In the case of Trolls 2, the studio will be releasing it on digital platforms the same day it hits theaters (April 10th). The decision comes after the domestic box office had the worst weekend in nearly two decades as theaters start to shut down and limit viewers. Los Angeles and New York City have made the decision to shut down theaters in an effort to fight COVID-19.
COVID-19 is starting to spread rapidly in the United States, movie theaters have closed, and people are being told to stay home. The CDC does not want anyone getting together in groups that exceed 50 people, so the movies are obviously out of the question. While some studios are pushing release dates back, Universal is taking a different approach. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell had this to say in a statement.
"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. 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."
While Trolls 2 will be available on April 10th, Universal is releasing The Hunt, Emma and The Invisible Man, which are still in theaters, this Friday (March 20th). Each movie will be available to rent for 48 hours at $19.99 each. It is expected that the rest of the world will have the same price, or at least close to it. While most studios are fearful of the coronavirus and its impact on the box office, Universal is embracing the change and trying to get ahead of the curve.
There will be a lot of eyes on Universal Pictures in the weeks to come. This is a bold move and one that people have been discussing for the last few weeks. With the CDC putting a ban on gatherings of 50 or more for the next eight weeks, we'll probably see Disney and Marvel Studios having to move Black Widow's release date. And one can easily see the same thing happening to Wonder Woman 1984 at Warner Bros.
However, Disney+ could be the savior for some projects, including the seemingly cursed New Mutants. Since Marvel fans can't get into theaters to go see it, maybe Disney will put it out on their streaming platform. The same can be said about the live-action remake of Mulan. For now, it appears that everybody is going to keep an eye on Universal Pictures to see how this experiment goes. Variety was the first to cover Universal's new release strategy.