Not ready to go back to the movie theater? Hulu has you covered in February 2022. The streaming service is about to deliver the streaming debuts of two pretty big films that were theatrical exclusives that only came out in December of last year.
While this isn't the same kind of "day 1 streaming" initiative that HBO Max was doing in 2021, it's more than enough to make sure we consider Hulu for a higher spot on our best streaming service rankings. And it comes at a fortunate time for Hulu, more than months after the service went up by $1 per month.
Hulu invites us to walk Nightmare Alley
First up is critically and culturally beloved director Guillermo del Toro's latest film, Nightmare Alley. Originally released in theaters on Dec. 17. Nightmare Alley hits on Hulu on February 1.
Nightmare Alley stars Bradley Cooper as Stan Carlisle, a con man at a carnival who gets into an even more troubling situation with a psychiatrist named Lilith Ritter (played by Cate Blanchett). The film sports a murderer's row of a supporting cast, with Toni Collette, Clifton Collins Jr., Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Straithairn.
But you won't actually need Hulu to watch Nightmare Alley, oddly enough. It's also coming to HBO Max according to Collider. Personally, since I pay for the ad-free HBO Max, I'll likely watch it there and not on the ad-supported Hulu I got for $1 per month last year.
Hulu hires The King's Man
Hulu's also getting the latest edition of of the biggest modern action movie franchises when The King's Man arrives on February 18 and was originally released in theaters on Dec. 22.
The prequel of the Kingsman film series, this film is basically the origin story for the ficticious Kingsman organization, a private group of spies that is essentially not-Her Majesty's Secret Service. It stars Ralph Fiennes as Orlando, the Duke of Oxford, who was a pacifist until tragic events befell his family.
Just like with Nightmare Alley, Fiennes is joined by a stellar cast, with Gemma Arterton, Daniel Brühl, Matthew Goode, Djimon Hounsou and Rhys Ifans among others.
Analysis: Hulu is growing beyond just originals
The big news here is Hulu cutting the line when it comes to big movies. Typically, movies such as Nightmare Alley and The King's Man would be selling for $20 or more as rentals or digital purchases on Amazon and the like well before they're on a streaming service. Neither film is available digitally yet, which makes this a big coup.
Hulu, for most of its existence, has been the cord-cutter's favorite streaming service, thanks to its streaming shows the day after they air on live TV. Of course, its original shows and movies such as The Handmaid's Tale and Palm Springs help keep Hulu compelling, but its moves like this that are big.
Especially, as I highlighted above, when movie theaters aren't everyone's first move. The idea of the home theater has long promised an alternative to going out, and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated that demand — heck, it's why I canceled my tickets for Matrix: Resurrections and watched at home on HBO Max instead. If this trend could continue beyond the pandemic, it could even give audiences reason to not balk at an even higher Hulu price, which seems inevitable.