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Universal Breaks Theatrical Windows to Make Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma Available on VOD

March 16, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
The Invisible Man

Universal Pictures has an unprecedented solution to the shutdown of theaters in the wake of the coronavirus, making Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma available on VOD this Friday. Deadline reports that the studio is breaking their theatrical windows on the three films, making available via a 48-hour rental at an SRP of $19.99 each. In addition, Trolls World Tour will be made available in theaters and in home video when it releases on April 10th.

The movie currently only applies to those four films, but it is a big shocker as it destroys the traditional theatrical release window in relation to the movies. Invisible Man released in theaters just 17 days ago. Emma. has been out for 24 days, but only ten days of wide release. And The Hunt released just three days ago on Friday.

Theatrical windows typically stipulate that films not hit home video until 90 days after their release in theaters, and that’s something that theaters have been decidedly passionate about keeping for obvious financial reasons. When Universal tried to shorten the window for the Eddie Murphy comedy Tower Heist in 2011 to just three weeks in two specific smaller markets (Atlanta and Portland) with a home video price of $59.99, theater chains revolted and said they would refuse to screen the film. Universal capitulated and restored the 90 day release window. Netflix has had regular conflicts with theater chains over their attempts to release films in theaters and on the service, resulting in chains not carrying their films.

However, we’re in a different world now and movie theaters are shuttered in several markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AMC has announced that for those markets where they are not forced to close, they will restrict capacity in any individual theater to 50 people. A statement this morning from Universal CEO Jeff Shell read:

“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.”