The Invisible Man and other Universal Studios movies to be released on VOD

The Invisible Man, photo courtesy Blumhouse Productions
The Invisible Man, photo courtesy Blumhouse Productions /

Universal Pictures is becoming the first major studio to take decisive action regarding how they will market their new releases, including The Invisible Man.

Movie theaters are shutting down, releases are being postponed, productions are being halted, and big-name actors are catching the virus. The effects of the coronavirus are being felt far and wide across the entertainment industry. With fewer people showing up to theaters, studios are faced with a choice.

Most studios are just choosing to push back the releases of their movies. Huge tent poles such as Mulan, Fast and Furious 9, and the latest James Bond film have all been pushed back. But now, in an unprecedented move, Universal Pictures has announced that they will be releasing their new theatrical releases on VOD, according to a report from Variety.

This is a huge move. It’s been speculated about since the start of the virus, and now we’re finally at this point. For $19.99, you can go on iTunes or Amazon and rent movies that are currently out in theaters, such as The Invisible Man, and upcoming films such as Trolls World Tour, the day it’s released.

The Hunt and Emma will also be released on VOD.

Almost $20 a pop does seem like a lot at face value, especially when you can rent a movie like Knives Out for $3.99, and that’s just four months old. If you think about it though, it’s roughly the price of two tickets at the theater. For households with multiple people, the one-time investment should be more than worth it.

Personally, I was looking forward to heading to my local theater and see both Emma and The Hunt this week. But now, I can’t do that. This new initiative from Universal gives me the opportunity to see both films from my own home while practicing social distancing.

So the big question here is whether any other companies will follow suit. It’s almost a guarantee that Disney movies like Mulan and Black Widow will not be going straight to Disney Plus. But might something like Soul, a Pixar film, have that kind of release? Maybe. Non-IP Pixar movies don’t tend to do the same kind of box office numbers that MCU or live action remakes do, so there is a possibility, however distant, that Disney would at least consider it. Maybe The New Mutants could even be released on Disney+ or Hulu.

Realistically, we probably won’t see other big studios like Universal take this approach. After all, the small slate of movies they’re releasing isn’t particularly impressive compared to what’s been pushed back. But maybe independent studios like A24 or Neon could take the bait.

The next question here has to do with what this means for theaters. If this format sticks, it might be bad news. As people get used to it, the theater experience may not mean as much to movie-goers anymore. This is already obvious with the popularity of streaming services. There could be a shorter theatrical window for newly released movies before they get released on VOD.

Otherwise, the format could be totally scrapped once society returns to some sort of normalcy. But that doesn’t seem likely at this point. Releasing movies in this manner seemed like a threshold that was going to be crossed at some point, and now that it’s been crossed, there’s no going back. It could be in a different manner in the future, but it’s going to stay.

For now, it would be great to see more new movies that people were looking forward to be released where people can see them. Right now, it’s almost as if the spring box office has been totally eliminated. But whether or not more studios follow suit, this is a monumental day for the way movies are released in the modern world.

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