With the world under lockdown and cinemas closing left and right, there’s no denying that the global COVID-19 coronavirus has put a serious dent in the entertainment industry. But what does that mean for animated features just around the corner? Well, turns out Universal Pictures has a backup plan. The studio announced (via Variety) where they will release their movie in cinemas and home media at the same time, starting with Trolls World Tour.
This new strategy will begin with the new DreamWorks sequel, which will get its dual release on April 10, 2020. In addition to cinemas still open, Universal will release the film digitally through a 48-hour rental period at $19.99 for the United States, and a near-equivalent price internationally.
Additionally, Universal will be releasing their recent theatrical films early as home rentals. Starting from March 20, 2020, moviegoers can digitally rent horror flicks The Invisible Man and The Hunt, as well as Focus Features’ Emma. These will carry the same $19.99 48-hour rental pricing.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell issued the following statement for this unprecedented release experiment:
“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.”Jeff Shell, CEO, NBCUniversal
Trolls World Tour is the sequel to DreamWorks’ 2016 musical hit Trolls. The followup sees Poppy (Anna Kendrick), Branch (Justin Timberlake), and their friends banding together to stop Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of the Rock tribe from wiping out all other music genres.
Universal’s two other animated movies in their 2020 lineup include Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, and DreamWorks’ The Croods 2, which are releasing in July and December respectively. Both are yet to be confirmed to use the new release strategy, although this will depend on the future of the outbreak.
The studio’s ninth Fast & Furious movie was another casualty of the coronavirus, where that movie has been massively delayed from May 2020 to April 2021. Another movie in the schedule affected was MGM’s next James Bond flick No Time to Die, which was delayed from April to November 2020. Universal is distributing that movie internationally.
Other high-profile releases delayed due to the coronavirus include Disney’s Mulan remake, Marvel’s Black Widow, 20th Century’s The New Mutants (yet again), Antlers, and The Woman in the Window, Searchlight’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2, and Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II. More future releases could also be affected by the pandemic.
The coronavirus will undoubtedly have a major impact on the release of upcoming animated features. We’ll be keeping our Animation Calendar up to date to inform you of any postponements.