The impact of COVID-19, the Coronavirus, on the entertainment industry has been profound. Theaters in major metropolitan areas all over the world have been shut down for now, and productions have halted. In an effort to counter the spread of the coronavirus and in light of the delayed theatrical release schedules, Universal Pictures March 16 announced it would release its current theatrical slate into home entertainment distribution channels simultaneously.

There has been a long standing 90-day theatrical window, the delay between the release of a movie in the theaters and when it becomes available for purchase for home viewers. That window has now been collapsed to zero, at least for NCBUniversal films. Last weekend’s box office was the lowest in 20 years, prompting the studio to take drastic action.

Movies include The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma, among other titles. Universal’s DreamWorks Animation Trolls sequel, Trolls World Tour, will now hit theatrical and home entertainment channels on April 10. Titles will be available on assorted digital channels for a 48-hour rental period at $19.99 each.

“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,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in a statement. “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.”

Empty theaters are forcing NBCUniversal’s hand. Will the change be permanent? Nobody knows.

Movie theaters have now been closed in more than 30 markets around the world, while in the United States, the AMC Theatres chain announced it would limit movie attendance to 50 in an attempt to adhere to “social distancing” guidelines. Earlier, AMC had said it would cut capacity in its theaters by half.

In its latest guidelines, issued March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

That pretty much means everything that we geeks normally do for our social activity. Movies, restaurants, conventions – pretty much all of it. Digital media and entertainment ( falls into that category) is where we’ll all be for a while.


SCIFI Radio Staff
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