- Several movies that are currently playing in theaters will soon be available to rent or purchase On Demand.
- On Wednesday, Sony announced that the Vin Diesel movie "Bloodshot" will be available to purchase next Tuesday.
- Universal announced that on Friday, current releases "The Invisible Man," "The Hunt," and "Emma" will be available to rent for 48 hours for $20. And on April 10, "Trolls World Tour" will be available to watch On Demand and in theaters.
- Insider has learned from several sources that more announcements of titles getting a Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) option will be made in the coming days.
- PVOD, the online rental/buy option, became a reality after most movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus.
- Due to Hollywood coming to a standstill because of the pandemic, some upcoming theatrical releases could end up being sold to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, according to several sources.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
It's a term that has been a buzz word around the movie industry for years: Premium Video On Demand. But because of movie theaters, it has never become a reality. That has all changed because of the coronavirus.
Premium VOD (or PVOD) is the term used for movies that are given a theatrical run but also made available to rent or buy On Demand. It's a method of revenue that some studios have been interested in testing out for years but have never gone forward due to its relationship with movie theaters.
But with the coronavirus shuttering the three biggest movie theaters in the country — AMC, Regal, and Cinemark — the experimentation of PVOD is now here.
On Monday, Universal announced that due to the virus, which has caused the nation to practice social distancing and prohibits going to movie theaters in some areas of the country, its current releases in theaters — "The Invisible Man," "The Hunt," and "Emma" (a release from its specialty division, Focus Features) — will be available for 48-hour rental for $20 beginning Friday.
And its upcoming release, "Trolls World Tour," will also be available as a PVOD the same day it opens in theaters on April 10.
This move by Universal marks the first time that a major studio has ever provided a home rental option for titles that are still in theaters.
Then on Wednesday, Sony announced that its latest release, the Vin Diesel-starrer "Bloodshot," will be available to purchase next Tuesday. It had been in theaters less than a week.
Insider has learned from numerous sources that in the coming days more announcements will be made of titles currently in theaters also getting PVOD options.
"Studios have been itching to collapse the theatrical window for years, so this virus was the excuse to finally do it," said one producer.
Don't expect big blockbusters to be available on PVOD
Before the coronavirus completely shattered our normal way of life, in the movie industry, studios respected the 78-day exclusive theatrical window. In other words, its movies could only be available for streaming or Blu-ray/DVD releases once it was through playing in theaters.
But the pandemic has caused several studios to go against tradition to survive.
Following the close of movie theaters to support social distancing recommendations, the box office dipped to a 20 year low last weekend and popular upcoming titles were pulled or moved to later in the year (or in the case of "F9," the next "Fast & Furious" movie, to next year). The next James Bond movie, "No Time To Die," will open in November. Movies like "Mulan," "A Quiet Place II," and "Black Widow" have yet to be given new release dates.
Because these titles are expected to be big earners at the box office, they are not in play to have PVOD options (or go straight to a subscription service, like Disney Plus in the case of Disney titles), according to a source with knowledge of release plans. But when it comes to less anticipated titles, don't be surprised if you find yourself being able to watch them at home in the coming weeks.
And in the case of a handful of titles that haven't been released yet, studios might be looking to just sell them off to the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Why some upcoming movies could be sold to streaming services
With the industry literally at a standstill because of the coronavirus, it's giving studio executives time to look over their slates and it could lead to some deals being made to earn some quick cash, depending on how long the country is in a shutdown.
Upcoming mid-range-budgeted titles that were originally supposed to get theatrical releases may be sold off to streaming services, according to several sources.
"Mid-level movies have always had a better life on streaming," said an industry insider. "And it's not like those movies would be getting dumped to a service. The at-home audience is captive, literally. I would tell the filmmaker, 'Your movie will touch people because they will always remember it because they watched it while being in quarantine.'"
The reality is that drastic changes are coming to how we see movies. The main way Hollywood has been premiering films for over a century — the movie theater — is no longer safe for us to go to. It will likely lead to PVOD sticking around going forward.
But all of Insider's sources agreed that when it's finally safe to go back to the theater, the audiences (and studios) will welcome it with open arms.
"People will return to movie theaters because that is who people are," The National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement released on Tuesday. "When they return they will rediscover a cutting edge, immersive entertainment experience that they have been forcefully reminded they cannot replicate at home. In the uncertain, difficult economy ahead, movie theaters will fill the role they always have in boom times and in recessions — the most popular, affordable entertainment available outside the home."
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