NBCUniversal bringing its theatrical movies to streaming early due to coronavirus

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Bond 25: No Time to Die and Fast & Furious 9 may be halted by coronavirus concerns, but not all movies will be stopped by the dangerous outbreak. As local theaters are shutting down, NBCUniversal announced its Universal Pictures films will be hitting video on demand at the same time they were supposed to be in theaters.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes NBCU CEO Jeff Shell, who said "Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters."

"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," Shell continued in a statement. 

The films will be released on "a wide variety of on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period." They're going to be priced at $19.99 in the U.S., and however much that translates to in international markets. 

Upcoming releases to be affected by this include Trolls World Tour, which is set to release on April 10.

This new policy will not apply to all of the company's catalog, or the entirety of its 2020 lineup. This is the next and most logical step to North American box office numbers being the lowest they've been in 20 years this past weekend, as noted in THR's report. Universal's current theatrical run, including Emma and The Invisible Man (two movies I had planned to see before my tickets were cancelled by closings) will arrive on VOD as early as this Friday, March 20. 

New York and Los Angeles were the first cities to widely see local governments pass down decrees to close theaters. But this change was inevitable when the Center for Disease control recently advised avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people in one location.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.