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Coronavirus makes Universal go day and date for home starting friday! (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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I was just predicting this would happen a few minutes ago.

Yeah, it simply makes sense.
 

Garysb

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Here is the article from Deadline.

Universal Making ‘Invisible Man’, ‘The Hunt’ & ‘Emma’ Available In Home On Friday As Exhibition Braces For Shutdown; ‘Trolls’ Sequel To Hit Cinemas & VOD Easter Weekend

In an unprecedented crunch of the theatrical window as several markets across the U.S. close down in response to safety from the coronavirus as well as worldwide, NBCUniversal’s Universal Pictures is officially making their current movies in cinematic release –Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man and The Hunt, and Focus Features’ Emma — available in homes as early as this Friday for on-demand 48-hour rental at the suggested price of $19.99 each. This is both for domestic and offshore markets where the titles are in release. Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, made the announcement this morning.

In addition, with the outlook of the theatrical marketplace unclear, Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, which was scheduled to be the first theatrical comeback title down the road in the midst of the coronavirus climate on Easter weekend April 10, will now go day-and-date in homes and on the big-screen. Trolls World Tour doesn’t roll out widely offshore until April 20, and in those markets, the sequel will also be available for VOD rental as well as cinemas. Already, Trolls World Tour has a large marketing campaign already underway, including the conglom’s Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky’s cross-company Symphony support. Trolls World Tour opened over the weekend in Singapore and Malaysia to a lackluster $200K.

Note this theatrical window-breaking doesn’t extend to Universal’s exorbitant $175M Robert Downey feature Dolittle which tanked theatrically this winter with $227.3M WW. That movie will follow through with a regular theatrical-to-home window. Dolittle is awaiting for a release in China once that country’s exhibition infrastructure gets back on track following its coronavirus outbreak.

The intentions here by NBCUni is to make big movies available in the home to the masses as current circumstances have made it more challenging for them to head out and as the nation is poised for a massive shut-in at home. “NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes,” read a statement this morning. The current theatrical window is 90 days. Those titles that don’t obey that window aren’t booked by the nationwide circuits like AMC, Cinemark and Regal. Netflix has tried to crunch the window in regards to their releases with major chains, but they’ve never found a common meeting ground, hence, big $200M productions like Martin Scorsese’s lauded The Irishman played in limited theatrical release before finding their way on the streaming service a month later.


At this point in time, the theatrical-VOD day and date release policy seen here isn’t one set in stone for future titles beyond Trolls World Tour. Decisions on titles and duration have not been made yet.

“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 Shell. “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.”


This past weekend, the domestic weekend box office saw a 22-year low of $55.3M, with around 109 cinemas closed throughout the country. Both LA and NY, which are the box office capitals of the U.S., have mandated that their cinemas close soon. LA was the top-grossing market with $2.6M this past weekend, -55% from last weekend, while New York, typically No. 2, dropped to 3rd with $1.469M, -64%. The projected grosses for the crop of new wide releases The Hunt, I Still Believe and Bloodshot were off significantly with their respective 3-days coming in at $5.3M, $9.5M and $9.3M. In normal market conditions, The Hunt could have posted $8M-$10M, Bloodshot about the same, and I Still Believe between $11M-$14M. Disney’s Onward posted the biggest second-weekend drop for a Pixar title ever at -72% or $10.5M as moviegoers were distracted in stockpiling goods given the coronavirus mania.

While most movies this past weekend saw a bump on Saturday over Friday, it wasn’t by much. Overall, for Uni’s pics which are hitting the 48-hour VOD rental on Friday, they like other titles saw big weekend drips, i.e. The Invisible Man ($6M in weekend 3, -60%, for a $64.4M total) and Emma ($1.37M after expanding to 1,732 in weekend 4, -72% for a $10M current total).

If market conditions had been normal, the one film that would get hurt by this proposition is The Invisible Man which conceivably had $15M left in it. Emma was limited in its play with sophisticated older adults being the prime demo, and The Hunt arrived in the marketplace already tainted after the Blue State vs. Red State movie was bashed by right-wingers over the summer at the height of public shootings, which forced the pic’s release off its original September date.


However, the move to put Trolls World Tour out day-and-date is a shocker. After No Time to Die left the April 10 Easter corridor for Thanksgiving, Uni swooped in. The pic for some time was looked at as a sign of hope by exhibition that if this coronavirus situation eases up, Trolls World Tour would eventually bring us back. The first movie, which cost $125M, went on to make $347M WW and spawned spinoff TV shows, merchandising and a hit song by the pic’s star Justin Timberlake “Can’t Stop the Feeling” which went quadruple platinum with over 7.6M units sold in the U.S. as well as other records, and the performer’s best first week single on Digital Songs clocking a 163M audience, higher than Timberlake’s “Mirrors” with 159M.

In response to local city ordinances, movie chains were capping their auditorium capacities by as much as 50%. AMC announced this morning for those chains open, auditorium capacity wouldn’t exceed 50 people. Distribution execs weren’t fearing those caps as curbing business as most majors and indie distributors had posted their releases indefinitely, i.e. such event pics like No Time to Die, Mulan, A Quiet Place Part II and more.

The last time in recent memory when a major studio release was made available both in theaters and in-home was Sony’s The Interview during that studio’s massive hack six years ago. Given the controversy that James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy stirred up with North Korea in its satire, with that country being one of the reported suspects behind the hack, Sony pulled the full-on theatrical release and made The Interview available for purchase and rental on demand, in-home. While the major circuits wouldn’t play The Interview, smaller chains like Alamo and mom-and-pop cinemas actually did. The Interview, which cost an estimated $44M before P&A, only made $11.7M at the domestic box office over the 2014 year-end holiday.
 

Mark-P

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It’s great for those who normally attend movies and spend $20 anyway. But I’ll wait for the purchase window, because $20 is too steep for a rental.
 

Cranston37+

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Give points to WB for trying something different - they are pulling their Scooby-Doo movie from its late May theatrical release and going right to streaming - only they're offering a $24.99 purchase option as well as the $19.99 rental.

Do we like that better?
 
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Ted Todorov

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The idea is smart. The execution is terrible. $20 rentals are just... Ugh...
If they were selling it for that, for a movie you really want - sure. But a rental? Hard pass -- the rental doesn't come with a seat at the Walter Reade theater (which costs me $10 plus a free popcorn).

Unless we have a reliable Coronavirus antibody test plus a way to demonstrate that you are positive to enter movie theaters, as part of your eTicket, I have a hard time seeing how they will reopen before there is a vaccine... which may be loooong time.
 

Cranston37+

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a seat at the Walter Reade theater (which costs me $10 plus a free popcorn).

Ok let me throw this at you - what would you do if Fandango offered you $10 for a movie ticket or $20-25 for a movie ticket plus digital copy on FandangoNow?
 

Ted Todorov

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Ok let me throw this at you - what would you do if Fandango offered you $10 for a movie ticket or $20-25 for a movie ticket plus digital copy on FandangoNow?
I'd stick to the $10 movie ticket. I've never spent more than $15 on a purchase in the digital era, and now that I am a Criterion Channel subscriber I am probably close to zero, because there too many films on CC that I want to watch for the first time or rewatch than there are days in the month.
 

Ted Todorov

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That thread on Reddit was worth looking at for people saying what were the last movies they saw in a theater. I can even offer my photo from the Rendezvous with French Cinema -- Juliet Binoche was smart enough not to get on a plane, but Ethan Hawke was there:
Ethan Hawke.jpg

Then of course the Q&As vanished along with the festival and the Walter Reade and only our dogs mostly think life is normal (I say mostly because every once in a while they too will start shivering...)
 

TravisR

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But what do you think about the purchase option they're giving for a first run movie?
The problem with that question is that not all movies will be available at that price. Scooby Doo is $25 because it's a relatively inexpensive movie that will turn a nice profit. When it comes to a movie like Wonder Woman, there's no chance that Warners will sell a major budget franchise movie that they hope makes hundreds of millions for $25.
 

Cranston37+

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The problem with that question is that not all movies will be available at that price. Scooby Doo is $25 because it's a relatively inexpensive movie that will turn a nice profit. When it comes to a movie like Wonder Woman, there's no chance that Warners will sell a major budget franchise movie that they hope makes hundreds of millions for $25.

But in GENERAL, how do you feel about a first run movie offering rental and purchase options? Is there a price at which you would be interested?
 

Winston T. Boogie

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For some films I am fine with this and I feel like this is a decent deal. I think the price to do this, if the films are being sent direct to streaming because theaters are closed, should be about $20 to $25.00. This allows the possibility that they can make some money. It may be they need to do some sort of tiered pricing for films, as had been suggested by Spielberg, where if they release a Marvel film that they spent $250 million making then they need to bump up the cost of that for home viewing to $30-35 per home rental.

If you are comparing that to the cost of buying a Blu-ray then yes, waiting to purchase a Blu-ray is a bargain. But the truth is Blu-rays are mostly a bargain.

My only issue with this is I actually like going out to a movie theater. So, I want to see pictures like Villeneuve's Dune or the new Bond, or the next Scorsese film on a big screen.
 

TravisR

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But in GENERAL, how do you feel about a first run movie offering rental and purchase options? Is there a price at which you would be interested?
I'm not the normal consumer so my opinion is basically irrelevant but there's no realistic price that would attract me if a movie was also playing in a theater. The only way that I'd be interested is if I can't find a movie anywhere but VOD and I just had to see it. If a movie is playing in a theater, I'll see it in a theater. If I love it, I'd wait until the Blu-ray came out over VOD.

All that being said, I don't think $25 is an unreasonable price to own a new movie but I do think $10 or $12 (the price of a ticket) would be a lot better price for a rental.
 

RolandL

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I saw The Invisible Man at a Dolby theatre before the virus. Great movie and the sound was shaking the floors! I'm an A-list member with AMC so movies only cost me $2.
 

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