Universal is on the run to release some of its newest films that are still in the middle of their theatrical runs to digital, in an effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Movies including The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma. will be available to rent for $20 starting this Friday. Furthermore, Trolls World Tour will also be available on digital platforms the same day it hits theatres – April 10th.
The announcement comes at a time when box office across the world is recording record low figures since 1995 – just around $55.3 million. Moreover, Universal’s current theatrical films, The Invisible Man and Emma. Saw 60% and 72% drops respectively and the numbers are likely to get worse. Additionally, an increasing number of states are also shutting down theatres in an effort to spread the coronavirus. Chains such as AMC and Regal are also planning to cap attendance by 50% in locations where they are open.
This trend is a first of its kind in Hollywood. On top of that, $20 is quite a hefty price to pay, considering it is about five times as the standard $3.99 price on Amazon, iTunes, and other digital retailers. Those studios would cut theatrical runs of movies and choose digital rentals is quite unprecedented.
However, the reason in simple – movies make much more money in theatres than through sales and rentals. This is probably one of the biggest reasons as to why theatres exist at all, considering all movies can simply just be released to customers.
The digital scape brings in about a fraction of the revenue brought in by a theatrical run. Last year, movie purchases and rentals accounted for a combined $9.3 billion across digital and physical formats. On the other hand, the worldwide box office generated a record $42.5 billion in 2019.
Universal’s latest move is an example of what the disease and its preventive measures have had an impact on the film industry. Multiple movies including, Mulan, No Time to Die, F9 and various other projects have been delayed. Productions from Disney, Warner Bros., Netflix, and other studios have also been put on hold.