Universal Pictures to Release Movies for Home Rental on Premiere Day

By Gabriela Vatu / March 17, 2020

For the first time ever, given the COVID-19 outbreak, Universal Pictures will be offering movies that are currently in theaters for home rental, the studio announced.

It seems that movie studios have played around with the idea of releasing films for home viewing at the same time they release them in theaters, but due to strong opposition from theaters worldwide, they've always dropped this idea. Now, however, with many cinemas closing down due to the coronavirus outbreak and the risk of contagion, Universal Pictures is breaking away from tradition and will offer movies for home rental.

The home rental price will be of $19.99 (or its international equivalent) and the movie will be available for a 48-hour viewing window. The first movies to be offered in this manner will be Trolls World Tour, The Hunt, Invisible Man, and Emma, starting as early as March 20th. They'll become available internationally through a wide range of on-demand services. Vudu has already made its presence known for this new adventure, but we'll likely see some other giants like iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play jump in on this occasion too.

"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," said Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal CEO. "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."

It remains to be seen whether or not this policy will remain available once the coronavirus crisis dims down, and there's no indication from the companies themselves whether that will happen as of yet. We supposed we're going to have to wait and see.

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