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Universal Brings Theater-Bound Films into Streaming Amid Virus Fears

The new approach could help stave off the boredom of social distancing.

For those of us who will be holed up in our homes for the coming weeks, (or more, if we’re not careful), the entertainment world is looking to keep us occupied as best they can.

It began with Disney releasing the sequel to one of its most popular children’s movies of all time direct to the home, as opposed to expecting families to gather in movie theaters.  On Twitter, this started a bit of an anti-contest between parents as to how many times they have already been subjected to the film in its entirety.

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Now, Universal is stepping up to provide some advanced-released entertainment far away from the potentially ill crowds.

With movie theaters closing or reducing seating capacity due to coronavirus, Universal Pictures will make its movies available on home entertainment on the same day as the films’ global theatrical releases.

The initiative will kick off with DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour,” which is scheduled to debut on April 10 in the U.S. The company will also make films that are currently in theaters available on-demand starting as early as Friday, March 20. These films include the horror movies “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man,” as well as “Emma,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel from Focus, Universal’s specialty label.

The films will be available for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and for roughly the same price in international markets. The announcement is a blow to movie theaters, which have long resisted any attempts to shorten the amount of time that movies are available exclusively on the big screen.

As the COVID-19 response continues to unfold, we could see a great deal of entertainment companies adopting this model, which will certainly help to ease the pain of social distancing.

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