Given the preventive measures against Coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being taken worldwide, Comcast Corporation has decided that Universal Pictures films will simultaneously debut online and in theaters. The company has reported that the titles will be available on the OTT platforms of Comcast (in U.S.) and Sky (in Europe) Pay TV services, both companies owned by Comcast Corporation, “as well as through a broad range of on demand partners”. Comcast has not revealed whether the initiative will reach Latin America.
The first movie for which this new strategy will be implemented is Trolls World Tour (produced by DreamWorks Animation, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures), with its premiere scheduled for next April 10 in the U.S. The company will also make recently released films (movies that are currently in theatres) available online, beginning on March 20. These titles are The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma.
These movies “will be available for a 48-Hour rental period at a suggested retail price of USD 19.99”, explained Comcast executives. In this way, Universal is breaking with the industry’s customary practice, which consists in waiting 90 days for a movie to run in theaters before distributing it on other platforms.
Update 3-20-20: Universal Pictures’ strategy was shortly afterwards adopted by other major studios in the industry such as Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate.