Universal Pictures to Offer First Run Films in Your Home

With governments across the globe asking people to hunker down due to the spread of COVID-19 (the United States joined today, suggesting that folks don’t congregate in any groups larger than 10), and the film and TV industry facing an unprecedented stoppage of work, responsible people all over the world are looking for options to keep them sane while they sequester themselves in their apartments and homes. While there is no shortage of entertainment available to stream, Universal Pictures is going one step further and will be making their current slate of theatrical releases available online.

Starting this Friday, March 20, you’ll be able to download The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and EmmaUniversal stated in a release that these films “will be available on a wide variety of the most popular on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets.” They’ve also announced that the release of Trolls World Tour on April 10 will happen both in theaters (if they’re open, which is far from a guarantee at this point) and also online.

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception,” said Jeff Shell, the CEO of NBCUniversal in a press release. “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.”

Universal has already announced that they’re pushing their upcoming Fast & Furious release, F9, all the way back to next year, but it’s still great news that the studio has made this decision in a time of global uncertainty when millions of people will likely be in their homes for days, or weeks, on end.

COVID-19 has altered the entertainment landscape essentially overnight. Whether other studios follow suit is unclear right now, but there’s a good chance Universal’s approach will be adopted at least partially by others. In a time of massive uncertainty and justified fears, adapting to our changed circumstances, both on a personal level and from businesses worldwide, seems both necessary and wise.

Featured image: Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass in “The Invisible Man,” written and directed by Leigh Whannell. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures. © 2020 Universal Pictures


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.